Larry Wilson: A short water quality history

Larry gives a little background on the efforts over the years to reach agreement on water quality issues between British Columbia and Montana . . .

Every North Forker is painfully aware that British Columbia is vital to our lifestyle and well being. After all, the North Fork of the Flathead River flows out of British Columbia and provides us with the cold, clear, pure water that is essential to us and to Flathead Lake.

For more than 30 years, we’ve been concerned about Canadian industrial threats to water quality in the river. Most urgent threat was the development of coal mines in the upper Flathead. This was one of the main reasons the North Fork Preservation Association was organized.

At one point, NFPA president John Frederick and his then-wife Sharon bought stock in the coal company that had development plans in the Flathead. For several years, they attended stockholders meetings to raise awareness of our concerns.

Montana Gov. Ted Schwinden began negotiations with British Columbia to address water-quality issues, and since then every Montana governor continued those efforts. Although the efforts of Govs. Stan Stephens, Marc Racicot and Judy Martz seemed to make little progress, step by step the Canadians and Americans were making headway. The International Joint Commission and the Flathead Basin Commission and B.C. officials continued to meet, share concerns and move toward a solution.

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