A provision in the recent federal budget bill requires the EPA to get off the dime and work with U.S. and Canadian agencies to do something about mining waste in the Kootenai Watershed . . .
Stemming the flow of dangerous mining contaminants spilling from Canada into the Kootenai River watershed was listed as a priority in the 2,232-page government-spending bill signed by President Donald Trump, marking a hard-won victory for advocates of the endangered river and the communities it supports.
Inclusion of the beleaguered river system in the massive spending bill is another in a recent series of significant steps toward tackling a decade-long problem brewing in the transboundary Kootenai River watershed, where toxic contaminants leaching from upstream Canadian coal mines in the Elk River Valley of British Columbia continue to threaten Montana’s prized aquatic ecosystems.
Spearheading the latest charge to bring attention to the Kootenai is U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, who helped draft the annual budget bill as a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, and who for years has been mounting pressure on the U.S. and B.C. governments to develop a bilateral water quality standard for mining contaminants, including selenium, sulfates and nitrates.
A deal to permanently protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mining and energy exploration could ultimately be resolved in a treaty between the two countries.
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that they were directing their federal agencies to look at ways of solidifying a deal struck between Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Prime Minister Gordon Campbell in February.
They did it. In the promised follow-up to last week’s announcement that British Columbia was halting all resource extraction activities in the Canadian Flathead, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer met today in Vancouver, B. C. to sign an agreement banning mining and energy development throughout the transboundary Flathead Valley.
The Missoulian has the best coverage . . .
With an exchange of bolo ties and Olympic mittens, Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell signed an agreement in Vancouver to ban mineral and energy extraction in the cross-border Flathead River Basin on Thursday morning.
“I’m not taking credit for this,” Schweitzer said after the ceremony. “There are people who’ve spent their lifetime working on this goal. I’ve run one lap. And now I’m handing the baton along to the congressional delegation. They have a tall order to convince their colleagues this is the right thing and the right time to do it.”
Not to be outdone by the folks north of the 49th parallel, U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester will introduce legislation banning mining and energy development on federal lands in the North Fork Flathead drainage.
The Missoulian has the story . . .
Two days after British Columbia placed the area north of Glacier National Park off limits to mining, Montana’s leadership announced it would do the same on federal lands here.
“We need to show the Canadians we’re working in good faith on our side of the border, as well,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The government of British Columbia has signed an order that apparently bans mining and other resource extraction activity in the Canadian Flathead watershed. The Missoulian has a good write-up, including a map . . .
British Columbia’s government has formalized its promise to protect wildlands north of Glacier National Park, signing a legislative order that effectively bans mining in the Canadian Flathead.
Called the Flathead Watershed Area Order, the law signed Tuesday completely reverses a longstanding land-use plan for the area, which gave drilling and mining primacy over all other uses.
The folks at Flathead Wild posted a good summary of the high points of the UNESCO World Heritage report on threats to Waterton-Glacier Park, along with links to major press coverage — both print and video.
Here’s the lead-in . . .
Great news for Friends of the Flathead! A UNESCO World Heritage report is recommending a permanent prohibition on mining in the Flathead River Valley. And that a single conservation and wildlife management plan be developed for the entire trans-boundary Flathead region.
The report also says the adjacent Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park should be declared a World Heritage Site in Danger if plans proceed for a controversial Flathead coal strip mine.
This week’s Hungry Horse News has a decent write-up on the UN World Heritage Committee scientific mission report on threats to Waterton-Glacier Park . . .
Scientists from the United Nations are calling for a moratorium on mining in the Canadian Flathead, just north of Glacier National Park.
Last fall Paul Dingwall, a New Zealand scientist with the World Conservation Union and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and Keshore Rao, deputy director of the United Nation’s World Heritage Center, toured Glacier and Waterton Parks as well as the Canadian Flathead. They wanted to see for themselves the potential impacts of proposed coal, coal bed methane and gold mines in Canada on the Park.
“Their basic conclusion is they have no doubt that mining is incompatible,” with the park, said Stephen Morris, chief of international affairs for the National Parks Service.
University of Montana professor Ric Hauer will discuss threats to the water quality of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River at the next program sponsored by the Mission Mountain Audubon Society.
“Pristine waters and biodiversity threatened in the North Fork Flathead River” will be the subject of Hauer’s talk Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Polson City Library meeting room. The public is welcome to attend.
Canadian press coverage of the World Heritage scientific mission report on threats to Waterton-Glacier Park is a bit more thorough than the articles posted in local papers. Not surprising, since the report primarily targets proposed resource extraction activities in the Canadian Flathead.
Here are a couple examples. Both are recommended reading for anyone interested in this issue.
From the Vancouver Sun . . .
A United Nations report has recommended a moratorium on mining in the controversial Flathead Valley of southeastern B.C. and development of a comprehensive transboundary conservation and wildlife management plan for the area, a U.S. official revealed Thursday.
Stephen Morris, chief of international affairs for the National Park Service, said in an interview from Washington, D.C., that he has received a copy of a fact-finding mission report by two UN world heritage representatives who visited the area in September.
No mining activity in the Flathead Valley is safe mining activity when it comes to protecting the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, suggests a UNESCO report now in the hands of federal government officials in Canada and the U.S.
“I don’t want to get into too much of the detail, but the overriding recommendation is that in the view of the mission, they see mining in the Flathead watershed as creating unacceptable impacts on the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site, and they don’t think there’s a compromise position,” said Stephen Morris, head of the international affairs office for the U.S. National Park Service.