Tag Archives: Flathead River Valley

New West runs feature on North Fork Watershed Protection Act

Online media publication New West ran a feature Wednesday on the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, including some nice local quotes from NFPA President John Frederick . . .

An ongoing effort to protect a shared river drainage on the Montana-Canada border from mining damage will not inhibit recreational users, hunters or logging activity, Montana’s senior senator promises.

According to a statement from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act would solidify an agreement between Montana and British Columbia to prohibit new mining and energy exploration in the million-acre northern Flathead River basin, which extends across the Canadian line.

Continue reading “U.S.-Canadian ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ To Protect Montana River” . . .

Commentary: North Fork deal is a winner

The Daily Inter Lake has nice things to say today about the recently concluded deal to protect the Flathead drainage . . .

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the recently announced commitment of the Nature Conservancy to provide about $9.4 million to seal a deal between Montana and British Columbia that will prevent mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River Basin.

It’s even harder to overstate what a sweet deal it is. Montana businesses, conservation groups and political leaders have been battling mining proposals in the British Columbia Flathead drainage for the last 30 years, never really knowing when the next battle would come.

Now, because of a memorandum of understanding between the province and the state that was announced a year ago, there is a prohibition on mining in the remote and pristine drainage that feeds Montana’s North Fork Flathead River.

Continue reading . . .

Canadian coverage: Conservation groups put up $9.4-million to save Flathead Valley

Not surprisingly, the Canadian press has also been covering the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead. The Globe and Mail posted an excellent article, including links to related stories and even a photo gallery . . .

Two environmental groups are putting up $9.4-million to help the governments of British Columbia and Montana follow through on an agreement to save the pristine Flathead River Valley in southeastern British Columbia.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. Nature Conservancy are contributing the money to cover costs related to a 2010 agreement between the province and the state. The Flathead is known as the Serengeti of the North for its abundant natural areas, which are home to 16 species of carnivore.

Continue reading . . .

Agreement to protect North Fork of Flathead from gold and coal mining finalized in D.C.

Monday, Gov. Schweitzer announced in Kalispell the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead. Tuesday, in Washington D.C., the whole package was wrapped up and a ribbon tied around it when Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer announced that the Canadian government plans legislation to permanently protect the area.

The Missoulian posted excellent coverage . . .

The deal to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mining and energy exploration got final approval on Tuesday at a gathering in Washington, D.C., with Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer.

In addition to confirming that The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy of Canada will contribute $9.4 million to reimburse mining company expenses, the gathering also announced plans for Canadian legislation to permanently protect the area.

Continue reading . . .

Gov. Schweitzer announces, praises deal to reimburse mining companies for North Fork protection

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer made the formal announcement in Kalispell yesterday of the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead.

Both the Flathead Beacon and the Daily Inter Lake covered the presentation in some detail . . .

Flathead Beacon: Nature Conservancy to Reimburse Mining Companies for North Fork Protection

Mining companies with operations in the Canadian portions of the Flathead River Basin will be compensated for their investments by two conservation groups to protect the area around Glacier National Park, according to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who made the announcement in Kalispell Monday. The payment will seal a deal cut between Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell one year ago in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect the Flathead watershed and Glacier National Park.

Continue reading . . .

Daily Inter Lake: Money found to seal N.F. mine deals

Another chapter is unfolding in the running effort to ban mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced a deal Monday that will compensate two mining companies for investments they already have made in the drainage.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Montana have agreed to split the costs of compensating the Cline Mining Co. and Max Resource group for about $10 million in “sunk costs,” Schweitzer told reporters at Flathead Valley Community College.

Continue reading . . .

[Update: Text of the press release from the Governor’s office (PDF, opens in new window.]

Baucus & Tester praise agreement to retire Canadian oil and gas leases

Yesterday’s announcement of the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead is getting lots of coverage today. Here’s the official press release from U.S. Senators Max Baucus and John Tester . . .

February 15, 2011


Senators Praise Agreement to Retire Canadian Oil and Gas Leases at No Cost to American Taxpayers

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. senators U.S. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced a formal commitment from British Columbia to pursue legislation that codifies North Fork protections on the Canadian side of the border today.  British Columbia signed the agreement in conjunction with an event in Washington today with Baucus, Tester, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and representatives from The Nature Conservancy.

The commitment also includes an agreement between The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide $9 million to retire existing oil and gas leases on the Canadian side of the border at no cost to American taxpayers.  Baucus and Tester have championed efforts to retire leases without using taxpayer dollars. To date, the Senators have secured the voluntary return of more than 200,000 acres of old oil and gas leases, or 80 percent of the total leased acreage on the American side of the border.

“Like anything else, protecting the North Fork requires hard work and cooperation. We’ve been working behind the scenes for months to secure this commitment that is 30 years in the making, and I’m thrilled our efforts to bring folks together have paid off,” Baucus said. “Today’s agreement will protect the North Fork on the Canadian side without asking American taxpayers to foot the bill, just like we’ve done successfully in Montana. And Canadian legislation that mirrors our bill here in the U.S. will help secure permanent protections for the Flathead economy.  I want to thank British Columbia for their commitment to preserving this vibrant tourist economy and for helping us keep Montana the last best place for generations to come.”

“This agreement is a testament to what happens when we work together to find solutions that don’t involve American taxpayer dollars,” said Tester, chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  “A lot of folks worked hard to keep this special part of North America pristine for future generations of hunters, hikers, anglers and sightseers—and it will result in a stronger economy and jobs for Montana.”

“Our conservation challenges don’t stop at the border so it is important that our nations join together to protect our world’s natural resources and treasures, including the Flathead River Basin with its pristine lakes and alpine scenery,” said Secretary Salazar. “Completion of the agreement to protect the Basin from mining and energy development is not only an historic event, but also a wonderful celebration for the many people who are dedicated to coordinated, sustainable protection of this important watershed.  Many thanks are due Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana for their critical work over the years to protect the Basin.”

“We are thrilled and grateful that so many people came together to protect this extraordinary treasure. No great river is constrained by a border, and it took the cooperation and hard work from people of both our great nations to ensure that the Flathead remains as pristine as it is today. We simply couldn’t have achieved this enormous success without a long list of people, starting with Senators Baucus and Tester, Governor Schweitzer, Premiere Campbell, Secretary Salazar, Ambassador Doer and our partners at Nature Conservancy of Canada. Thanks to one and all,” said Kat Imhoff, the Montana director at The Nature Conservancy.

“Today’s announcement secures yet another chapter in this  30 year citizen’s effort to protect the irreplaceable North Fork wildlands. Many thanks to Senator Max Baucus, who has worked tirelessly to permanently keep these lands and waters pristine for generations to come, and Senator Tester, each of whom played an enormous role in getting us here today, and to Governor Schweitzer who built on their hard work,” said Tony Jewett, Vice President of the National Parks Conservation Association. “With the immediate threat of resource development now on the sidelines, both nations have a window of opportunity to put in place new agreements that will protect this globally significant area permanently.”

“We deeply appreciate the leadership shown by the Montana delegation with the reintroduction of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.  Senators Baucus and Tester have worked tirelessly to ensure that future generations will enjoy the pristine waters and lands of the Flathead, including the world renowned Glacier National Park,” said Mark Turcek, president and CEO at The Nature Conservancy.

In June Baucus and Tester asked President Obama to press Prime Minister Harper on the importance of protecting the North Fork. The leaders spoke at the G-20 that month and pledged to cooperate.  Since then, Baucus and Tester have been working with Secretary Salazar, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Doer to build the agreement that led to today’s announcement.

The legislation announced today will formally codify the British Columbian North Fork protections adopted by executive order including: the Flathead Watershed Order (February 9, 2010), the No Disposition notice, the amended Mineral and Coal Land Reserve Regulations (Feb 9, 2010), and the amended Southern Rocky Mountain Management Plan (May 19, 2010).  Putting these protections into statute will ensure more permanent protections that cannot be overturned with leadership changes in British Columbia.  Baucus and Tester have been fighting to pass similar legislation to prevent future oil and gas development and mining on the U.S. side of the border without impeding the timber industry, hunting or fishing.

For the past 30 years, Baucus has been a steady and strong voice to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, beginning with his successful 1975 proposal to designate the Flathead as a Wild and Scenic River.


$10 million buyout protects Flathead from future gold & coal mining

Here’s a nice Valentine’s Day gift, posted in today’s Missoulian . . .

A deal to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River from gold and coal development has been sealed with a $10 million contribution from private conservation groups, Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced on Monday.

The Nature Conservancy’s U.S. and Canadian organizations have agreed to pay for the expenses of two Canadian mining firms that were exploring the upper reaches of the river drainage in British Columbia. That branch of the Flathead River runs along the western border of Glacier National Park where it enters the United States.

Continue reading . . .

North Fork protection nearing completion

Here’s an interesting article from the past week’s Hungry Horse News . . .

A deal to permanently protect the North Fork of the Flathead could come soon, Montana Sen. Jon Tester said last week.

“Maybe as soon as September we could get an agreement that is binding,” Tester said in a conference call with reporters last Thursday.

Read the full article . . .

UNESCO World Heritage Committee report recommends increased Flathead Valley protection

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee released the final report of the scientific mission study of threats to Waterton-Glacier Park. A press release posted to the Flathead Wild website has the highlights . . .

A report commissioned by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is calling for a “conservation and wildlife management plan” for the transboundary Flathead and a new management plan for the Flathead River Valley that “gives priority to natural ecological values and wildlife conservation.”…

The 50-page report, released today at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia, recommends:

  • A new B.C. Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan “that gives priority to natural ecological values and wildlife conservation.”
  • Taking steps to minimize barriers to wildlife connectivity, including a long-term moratorium on further mining developments in south eastern B.C., including in the Elk Valley, “in the corridor of natural terrain that creates vital habitat connectivity and allows the unimpeded movement of carnivores and ungulates” between Waterton-Glacier and Canada’s Rocky Mountains national parks.
  • A single conservation and wildlife management plan for the transboundary Flathead.
  • Inscription of Waterton-Glacier on the list of World Heritage in Danger if development of the proposed Lodgepole coal strip mine had proceeded (the B.C. government banned Flathead mining and energy development in February 2010 after receiving a draft copy of the mission report).

For those of you who prefer to get your information directly from source documents, we’ve made the full report available for direct viewing/download (50 pages, PDF format, 2MB).

B.C. Premier expects to know mining costs soon on North Fork deal

From today’s Flathead Beacon . . .

Accepting the Flathead Lakers’ 2010 Stewardship Award for signing an agreement with British Columbia protecting the North Fork from mining and drilling, Gov. Brian Schweitzer gave much of the credit to his counterpart in the negotiations: Premier Gordon Campbell.

Describing the fragile talks, held secretly in Spokane, Schweitzer emphasized that – from mining royalties to political capital – it was Campbell who had the most at stake.

Read the full article . . .