Flathead Open for Coal Mining Despite Ban
B.C.’s Flathead River Valley is still open to mountain top removal coal mining and coalbed methane development because a federal coal block is not included in a provincial ban on energy and mining development, Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups warned on November 27th.
Along with our partners in the Flathead Wild coalition, we are asking for a meeting with federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and calling on the federal government to make an immediate public commitment to join the ban on Flathead mining and energy development.
The B.C. ban was legislated in November 2011. It prohibits mining and energy development in the globally significant Flathead River Valley, long recognized as the missing piece of the adjacent Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in Alberta and Montana -- a World Heritage Site and two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
The B.C. legislation, however, has no legal effect over 6,290 hectares of a federally-owned Dominion Coal Block in the headwaters of the Flathead River Valley which is being considered for development. The 6,290 hectares are part of an 18,000 hectare coal block, the larger of two coal blocks in the area.
Read the story in the Vancouver Sun.
“The news is even more alarming because these coal blocks stretch across a globally-significant wildlife corridor that the United Nations’ World Heritage Committee called on B.C. to conserve,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Sarah Cox.
“In addition to the new coal mining threat, the Flathead is slated for intensive logging which has already begun. Contrary to statements by the B.C. government, the Flathead is not permanently protected.”
The Dominion Coal Blocks in the East Kootenay area were transferred to the federal government more than a century ago, as part of a deal to complete the National Railway in B.C. New maps posted on the Natural Resources Canada website show that interest in exploring these resources is active.
Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups are asking the B.C. government to agree to a national park in the southeastern one-third of the Flathead River Valley, as well as a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the Flathead and adjoining habitat.
You can help! Become a Friend of the Flathead today.
The Flathead has some of the world's purest water and is a vital link in a wildlife corridor that reaches from Glacier Park in Montana to Canada's Rocky Mountain parks. It is home to rare and at-risk species, including wolverine, grizzly bear, Rocky Mountain big-horned sheep, Lewis' woodpecker, and the tailed frog.