Unlike the U.S., Canada is getting serious about renovating its national parks . . .
WEST GLACIER – Less than 50 miles north of here, as the crow flies, officials at Waterton Lakes National Park announced this week they had chosen a location for a new $7.6 million visitor center inside the park. It will replace an old (1950s-era), tiny (600-square-feet) visitor center that park officials call “wholly inadequate to meet the needs and volumes of today’s visitors.”
It’s a big deal for Waterton, Glacier National Park’s next-door neighbor and, since 1932, half of the world’s first international peace park.
Perhaps even more noteworthy, however, is that the visitor center is just one of 17 major infrastructure upgrades or replacements being completed in Waterton over a five-year period.
Montana will relocate some local sage grouse to Alberta in an effort to improve the population in both jurisdictions . . .
Montana will send dozens of sage grouse to the Canadian province of Alberta in a plan approved Thursday that faces opposition from some lawmakers who say the state should first look to bolster its own fragile population of the bird.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 3-1 to relocate 40 greater sage grouse hens this year across the border to Alberta, where an estimated 100 to 120 of the birds are left. The sage grouse in Alberta and Montana make up a transboundary population, and the program should result in healthier numbers on both sides of the border, officials said.
“We have worked hard with Alberta to get this to fruition,” Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion said. “It seems to be working up there, and Montana has a lot to benefit.”
Canada’s wildfire situation may be a preview of Montana’s . . .
As Montana holds Little League tryouts for the 2015 wildfire season, Canada is showing the planet how to really burn a summer.
Alberta authorities were battling 116 fires by the end of last week, including 46 reported as “out of control,” according to provincial officials.
At British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, a 50-acre fire near Nanaimo forced the evacuation of 12 homes Thursday. Island Timberlands, Vancouver Island’s major private timber company, closed public access to many of its roads on the east side of the island because of the fire danger.
Passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is beginning to attract notice in the Canadian press, including this piece in the Kootenay News Advertiser . . .
Recently, the U.S. Senate passed the North Fork Watershed Protection Act as part of a nationwide U.S. public lands legislative package. Canadians have awaited this particular legislation since 2010, when then-governor Brian Schweitzer and then-B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell signed the B.C.-Montana Memorandum of Understanding promising to ban mining and oil and gas development in the entire transnational Flathead watershed.
“Passing this legislation represents a truly significant accomplishment for the BC–Montana relationship, and for the health of our shared Waterton-Glacier Peace Park region. It was vitally important for the U.S. government to pass this legislation to balance similar legislation passed in BC in 2011 that banned mining and energy development in the transnational Flathead watershed,” says John Bergenske, Conservation Director of B.C. conservation group Wildsight…
Montana and B.C. had been at odds over appropriate industrial development in the Flathead watershed since 1975, when Rio Algum, Ltd. proposed a mountaintop removal coal mine just six miles north of the international border and the U.S. Glacier National Park. That initial dispute took 13 years to settle, and required the intervention of the International Joint Commission (IJC) that has authority over the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 between Canada and the U.S.
I attended this presentation last week. Good stories and fascinating photos . . .
Jonathan Klein spent more than 30 years working in wilderness and wilderness management during his career with the Forest Service.
In all those years, there were plenty of black bear encounters — every time he just gave a shout and the bear took off running.
That’s the conventional wisdom in Montana — black bears run if you yell and holler enough.
But on this day, Klein was standing on the edge of the Churchill River yelling his lungs out at a black bear that had all the intentions of not going anywhere until it had thoroughly and completely consumed Klein.
On June 22, 2012, three days after retiring from the Forest Service, Jonathan Klein slid his canoe onto the waters of Canada’s Churchill River and began a 700-mile solo canoe trip that would take him from Saskatchewan to the Hudson Bay. Jonathan’s seven weeks on the Churchill tested him mentally and physically, nearly got him killed by black bear, and gave him ample time to reflect upon the value and meaning of wilderness.
Please join us for this final presentation in our Wilderness Speaker Series.
According to our friends north of the border, the Canadian federal government will not be making lands available for coal development within their section of the trans-boundary Flathead River Valley . . .
Flathead Wild, a coalition of conservation groups dedicated to protecting the Flathead Valley in the East Kootenay, welcomes the federal government’s announcement that it will exempt portions of the Dominion Coal Blocks within the Flathead Valley from a planned sale of federal lands. At the same time, the groups remain concerned that inappropriate development of the coal blocks adjacent to the Valley could jeopardize water quality and wildlife populations.
“While details around the planned sale are not yet clear, we are encouraged that the Federal Government has confirmed that portions of the coal blocks overlapping with the Flathead River Watershed will not be included in the sale, and that discussions with the Province are under way to ensure the protection of the entire watershed from development” said John Bergenske, Wildsight.
The Wildlife Conservation Society Canada just issued a report making several recommendations to protect the Southern Canadian Rockies, including the Flathead Valley. Besides a new provincial park and a set of wildlife management areas, the report also encourages wilderness designations on the U.S. side of the border . . .
A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) creates a conservation strategy that will promote wildlife resiliency in the Southern Canadian Rockies to the future impacts of climate change and road use. The report’s “safe passages and safe havens” were informed in part by an assessment of six iconic species — bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats and bighorn sheep — five of which were ranked as highly vulnerable to projected changes.
Nestled between Glacier National Park in Montana and Banff National Park in Canada, the Southern Canadian Rockies (SCR) has been overshadowed by these towering icons of mountain splendour. Yet this southern section contains spectacular landscapes, supports one of the most diverse communities of carnivores and hoofed mammals in North America, and is a stronghold for the six vulnerable species that have been vanquished in much of their former range further south…
Weaver recommends a portfolio of conservation lands including a ‘Southern Canadian Rockies Wildlife Management Area’ (WMA) that would conserve 66% of key habitats on 54% of its land base. The WMA designation would emphasize fish and wildlife values while allowing other responsible land uses. The trans-border Flathead River basin adjacent to Waterton Lakes-Glacier National International Peace Parks also merits very strong conservation consideration, says Weaver, due to its remarkable biological diversity. He endorses a new National or Provincial Park on the B.C. side and Wilderness areas on the Montana side.
A coalition of Canadian environmental groups is not happy with the progress shown by British Columbia and the Canadian federal government on implementing U.N. World Heritage Committee recommendations for the protection of the Elk and Flathead valleys . . .
B.C. Government Ignores World Heritage Committee Recommendations for Flathead and Elk Valleys
The B.C. and federal governments have failed to act on World Heritage Committee recommendations aimed at protecting a globally-significant wildlife corridor that includes the Flathead River Valley, conservation groups said today.
“The World Heritage Committee was very clear about the need to secure this important connection for wildlife,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske. “Yet new mines are planned for the Elk Valley without a full cumulative effects analysis–at the same time as the Auditor General warns that B.C. is failing to protect biodiversity.”
In a report card released today, the third anniversary of the Flathead energy and mining ban announced in February 2010, conservation groups assess progress on five detailed recommendations made by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The recommendations speak to the need for: a single conservation and wildlife management plan; prioritizing natural ecological values and wildlife conservation; a long-term moratorium on mining in southeastern B.C to ensure wildlife connectivity; improved coordination between the governments of B.C. and Montana, and; expanding Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park into part of the Flathead.
The report card concludes that the B.C. government has failed to comply with most of these key recommendations. It also points to a federally-owned coal block in the Flathead that is exempt from the B.C. ban on mining.