Tag Archives: Canadian Flathead

Debo Powers: Is Canadian logging a threat to pristine drainage?

Debo Powers, president of the North Fork Preservation Association, had an excellent op-ed on the Daily Inter Lake yesterday talking about heavy logging in the Canadian Flathead drainage . . .

The North Fork of the Flathead River has long been recognized as an internationally special stream, both in Canada and the United States. As such, the drainage has been managed with unusual care and attention on both sides of the international line.

But recent activity on the British Columbia side of the North Fork Valley should have all of us on alert. Especially those of us who care deeply about clean water, native trout, Glacier Park and Flathead Lake.

Over the past decades, much of the concern over the North Fork of the Flathead has focused on energy and coal development. And rightly so. Mountain-removal coal mining would have had devastating effects on the clean water that pours out of Canada, into Northwest Montana.

Thankfully, we’ve put that concern behind us via international agreements. But now we need similar, international agreements on how the North Fork of the Flathead Valley is going to be logged, particularly north of the border.

Obviously, logging does not have nearly the impact of coal mining. Trees grow back. Timber harvest can be compatible with keeping the North Fork healthy. But it’s compatible only if done correctly, up to modern scientific standards and with full transparency.

Two companies, Canfor and Jemi Fibre, are cutting or plan to cut large swaths of forest in the British Columbia Flathead. It’s worth noting that clearcut logging of such massive scale would simply not be allowed in the United States. In addition, the United States would have much stricter guidelines — such as how heavy equipment is used and requiring buffer zones around streams.

These are not just any streams. The logging is proposed around Foisey and McClatchie Creeks. These are major tributaries of the North Fork. Not only are they the source of clean water that eventually flows into Flathead Lake, they are major spawning tributaries for bull trout migrating out of Flathead Lake.

In particular, Jemi Fibre’s plans to log “Sportsman’s Ridge” are of particular concern. This area produces 30-40 percent of the bull trout in the North Fork. As the name implies, it is rich with wildlife.

On July 17, Sen. Jon Tester wrote Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to broach the subject of watershed management in the North Fork with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sen. Tester wrote, “…proposed logging in the Canadian Flathead near McLatchie and Foisey Creeks [major tributaries to the North Fork] have Montanans and federal agencies very concerned about adverse downstream impacts on water quality and wildlife… Sedimentation from large-scale timber harvest has great potential to negatively affect” the North Fork.

Flathead Trout Unlimited raised the alarm on Canadian logging in the watershed. I am grateful for their vigilance.

Please note that no one is saying the North Fork should be entirely off-limits to logging. There is room for sustainable timber harvest here, and we know logging can be light on the land and even beneficial for some wildlife species. We are simply saying that Canada and Montana should be good neighbors when planning this logging.

Experts from both countries should carefully think out logging plans. Those plans should employ the latest science and the best management practices to protect the wildlife, fish and water we share. After all, those resources move freely over the international border.

The North Fork of the Flathead Valley is a truly special place. Generations of Montanans and Canadians have worked together to keep it that way. Ultimately, the citizens of each nation have the final responsibility to be good stewards, and good neighbors.

I encourage Montana’s entire congressional delegation and Gov. Steve Bullock to speak clearly and respectfully to their Canadian counterparts: Let’s work together to keep the North Fork special, before it’s too late.

Trout Unlimited concerned about logging in the Canadian Flathead

Trout Unlimited, among other conservation organizations, is keeping a wary eye on logging operations in the Canadian Flathead . . .

Members of Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited are worried about potential timber harvest in the headwaters of the Canadian Flathead.

Two companies, Jemi Fibre and Canfor, hold privately owned forestland or lease government “crown” land within the watershed. Jemi recently purchased 130,000 acres in the Flathead and Kootenai watersheds. Canfor holds the area’s provincial crown timberland under a license “tenure” agreement.

Jemi’s holdings include approximately 10,000 acres of Sportsmans Ridge, encompassing Foisey and McLatchie creeks, both major tributaries of the North Fork Flathead headwaters. According to U.S. Geological Survey fisheries biologists, 30-40 percent of all bull trout spawning occurs just downstream of these tributaries. The Canadian Flathead becomes the North Fork of the Flathead in the U.S. and is the western boundary of Glacier National Park. For decades, the U.S. and Canada sparred over coal and gold mines in the Canadian Flathead. After decades of negotiation, the province and the U.S. agreed not to mine the drainage.

Now the dispute is turning toward logging…

Read more . . .

Logging in Canadian Flathead draws concern

The Hungry Horse News has an interesting article on logging activity north of the border in the headwaters of the North Fork . . .

A large timber harvest in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River has raised concerns with biologists in Montana.

University of Montana researcher Ric Hauer said thousands of acres of forest land have been logged by Tembec in McEvoy Creek in the Canadian Flathead. The area was previously unroaded, and McEvoy Creek is the “premier spawning stream in the entire Flathead,” he said.

Tembec gave him a tour of their operation as they logged and followed best management practices, he said, but he openly questioned whether that would sufficiently protect the area, based on the size and scale of the logging. He said the logging started in 2010 and is now completed.

Read more . . .

Flathead ‘Bat BioBlitz’ may help Canada’s endangered bats

The Canadian Flathead, as well as the area immediately below the border, has hosted a number of bat studies in the past few years, including this most recent one…

Bat biologists are converging in B.C.’s Flathead River Valley tomorrow. They hope to gain new information to advance bat conservation in B.C.’s southeast and to ultimately minimize the impacts of White Nose Syndrome, a mysterious disease that has killed millions of North American bats.

The four-day Bat BioBlitz, organized by conservation groups in B.C. and Alberta and led by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada’s bat biologist, Dr. Cori Lausen, will build on an initial inventory of Flathead bats that Lausen conducted last summer during a BioBlitz. That inventory detected two species of bats in the Flathead that are considered federally Endangered by the Committee on Endangered Wildlife in Canada: little brown myotis and northern myotis.

“In the southeast corner of B.C., the Flathead may be the gateway for entry of White Nose Syndrome into B.C., and it is thus urgent to start monitoring bats in this area,” said Lausen. “Significant bat hibernation caves have never been found in B.C. and yet the Flathead is surrounded by karst and has the deepest cave in all of Canada.”

Read more . . .

Canadian Flathead bioblitz tour next week

If you happen to be in Canada next week, you can find out more about the recent “bioblitz” at a series of talks offered around British Columbia. Here’s the announcement, courtesy of the Flathead River Valley web site . . .

Birds, bats, bugs… oh my! Come hear about the exciting biodiversity recently discovered in BC’s Flathead River Valley and how you can help save it forever. Speakers include Royal BC Museum’s Claudia Copley and Melissa Frey among others.

January 21st @ Science World In Vancouver – 7PM
January 22nd @ College of the Rockies Lecture Theatre in Cranbrook – 7PM
January 23rd @ The Arts Station in Fernie – 7PM
January 24th @ Canmore Collegiate – 7PM

Dave Hadden: It all makes sense from up here

Dave Hadden, Executive Director of Headwaters Montana, spent some time in the Canadian Flathead a short time ago. Here are his thoughts, written as he was on the summit of Mount Haig in the Canadian Rockies . . .

I’m sitting atop Mount Haig in the Canadian Rockies, just 30 miles (48km) from the Montana border and Glacier National Park. In front of me, the broken limestone and shale shards descend in sweeping arcs until they merge with ridge lines that go on forever. Behind me, very close behind me, my seat drops away vertically 2,000 feet to a jewel-like turquoise lake. I could be on top of Siyeh Peak in Glacier, but I’m not. I’m sitting on the highest peak in the proposed new Flathead National Park.

From up here you can see how the land fits together. How a grizzly bear and her cubs might tumble out of their winter den and find security in the high, carved cirque basin to my right from the instincts of male bears or the disturbance of human activities. How the green blush of a new year’s flowering moves up the valleys and canyon walls. How the returning winged-ones find willows and cottonwoods along the Flathead River and tributary creeks or in the tall spruce and pine to regenerate the song-filled air.

Continue reading . . .

Last summer’s Flathead BioBlitz reveals “Scientifically Significant” findings

Last summer, a group of scientists conducted a “bioblitz” of the Canadian Flathead, examining the area’s invertebrate species. This summer, and even larger group will document bird and fish species. Of course, their findings have implications on both sides of the border . . .

The discovery of a brand new spider species, the first Canadian record of a rare spider, and the first B.C. sighting in 100 years of a Herrington’s Fingernail Clam are some of the significant science findings from the first Flathead BioBlitz, according to data released today.

The August 2012 BioBlitz was conducted by 10 scientists, including six from the Royal B.C. Museum, and focused on documenting a stunning variety of rare, at-risk and extensive invertebrates from clams to butterflies to spiders. The second Flathead River Valley BioBlitz kicks off today with a team of 20 biologists who will spend a week traipsing through the spectacular river, valley and surrounding Rocky Mountains to document bird and fish species.

Continue reading . . .

Sierra Club BC and Royal BC Museum doing special event on Canadian Flathead

If you happen to be up that way, our neighbors to the north are doing a special event on the Canadian Flathead Valley. Here’s the announcement . . .

Join us at the Royal BC Museum for this special event

It’s called a BioBlitz!

On February 28, please join Sierra Club BC and the Royal BC Museum for an evening of stories, science and imagery about B.C.’s Flathead River Valley. RSVP for your free ticket!

In August 2012, Royal BC Museum staff and volunteers joined forces with other scientists in a 7-day BioBlitz to survey and record as many species as possible in the Flathead River Valley. For one intensive week, they documented the valley’s birds, insects, fish, plants, mammals, salamanders, spiders, frogs, slugs, snails, and other surprises!

When: February 28, 2013
Where: Royal BC Museum – Newcombe Conference Hall, 675 Belleville St., Victoria
Free admission, but please RSVP through Eventbrite for a ticket

Join us and begin to appreciate the richness of the Flathead River Valley – a natural treasure in our own backyard.

Transboundary Flathead still open to coal mining

Just when you think you can put your feet up and relax. The Flathead Campaign reports that the mining ban passed by British Columbia last year protecting the Canadian Flathead from development has a loophole. There are some federal coal blocks technically unaffected by this provincial legislation. The biggest sits right at the headwaters of the whole transboundary Flathead drainage.

Here’s the lead-in. Read the full article for details, including a map of the areas affected . . .

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, conservation groups warned today.

“The Flathead is not protected from open pit coal mining after all,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske. “We’re calling on the federal government to make an immediate public commitment to join the ban on Flathead mining and energy development.”

The B.C. mining ban, legislated one year ago in November 2011, has no legal effect over 6,290 hectares of federally owned Dominion Coal Blocks in the headwaters of the Flathead River Valley which are being considered for development.

Continue reading . . .

Canadian Flathead Valley scheduled for ‘BioBlitz’

A team of scientists will be conducting a biological survey in early August of the area being proposed as an expansion for Waterton Lakes National Park in the Canadian Flathead drainage . . .

British Columbia’s North Fork Flathead drainage will soon be swarming with scientists looking to document as many forms of life possible in a first-ever “BioBlitz” for the area.

The search will involve about a dozen scientists and support personnel combing the drainage for birds, bees, bats, fish, fungi, flowers, lichens, trees, reptiles and mammals of all types…

The scientists will be working in an area of southeastern British Columbia that is proposed as an expansion area for Waterton Lakes National Park…

Continue reading . . .