In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .
With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.
The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.
Read more . . .
Your friendly web-slinger was away on an extended road trip, so we’re playing catch-up. Here’s the first clutch of articles about significant events over the past couple of weeks . . .
Elk River poisoned by coal mining – Dr. Ric Hauer of the Flathead Lake Biological Station of the University of Montana issued a March 2, 2013 study comparing water quality in the Elk and neighbouring Flathead River Basins. Commissioned by Glacier National Park, the study found nitrogen levels at 1,000 times the background rate, sulphate levels at 40-50 times the background rate and selenium levels at 7-10 times background rate (p.2). The researchers tested above and below mines and used the pristine water quality of the nearby Flathead River to determine background levels and ascertain what aquatic life would normally be present in the Elk River were it not so polluted. Continue reading . . .
FWP: Montana’s wolf population drops 4 percent – At least 625 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2012, a 4 percent population drop compared to a 15 percent increase the year before, according to state wildlife managers. The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually verified by FWP wolf specialists. The latest population estimate came while Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks comples the federally required annual wolf conservation and management report. The report is expected to be available online by April 12. Continue reading . . .
Agency to target fish in five creeks – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will continue efforts to suppress rainbow trout and hybrid trout populations in the upper Flathead River system. Region One Supervisor Jim Satterfield signed a finding of no significant impact for the work Monday. That basically approves plans to continue removing hybrids and rainbows from the mouths and channels of Abbot, Sekokini, Rabe, Ivy and Third creeks in the main stem Flathead and North Flathead rivers. Continue reading . . .
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post regarding the Mist Mountain coalbed methane project, here are links to some additional information . . .
Our friends in Fernie, BC are not very happy about BP Canada’s plans. See the Citizens Concerned About Coalbed Methane site for details.
Wildsight posted a press release last Friday that does a good job of summarizing the problems local residents have with coalbed methane development. It also links to some additional material.
BP’s Mist Mountain Coalbed Gas Project site is another source of information. In particular, the maps page is a bit of an eye-opener.
What’s the Flathead connection? Earlier this year, BP withdrew their efforts to explore the Canadian Flathead for coalbed methane development, but left the door open to return at a later date. (See this post, for example.) Mist Mountain is in the Elk River watershed, not far from the Flathead headwaters and already the site of an open pit mine and a proposed wind farm. Events there are a good predictor of what might happen if that sort of activity spills over into the Flathead Valley.