From the Missoulian . . .
An effort to protect the transboundary Flathead River from mining and energy development moved a step forward Tuesday in the British Columbia Parliament.
Montana’s Gov. Brian Schweitzer and then-B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell signed a memorandum of understanding last year preserving the Flathead watershed, which borders Glacier National Park and the mountains west of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. Montana Sen. Max Baucus put a bill in Congress to solidify the commitment on the U.S. side; it’s still awaiting action.
On Tuesday, B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced a similar measure was put before the B.C. Parliament. The bill would prohibit issuing permits for mining, oil and gas development.
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From an announcement sent out by Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana . . .
British Columbia’s new premier, Christie Clark, has made good on her predecessor Gordon Campbell’s commitment to ban mining and energy extraction in the headwaters of the transboundary Flathead River.
Yesterday, her Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, introduced Bill 2, the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act.
With the certain passage of this bill this year, B.C. will have completed its commitment to ban mining and energy extraction as one part of the historic B.C. – Montana MOU signed in February 2010 at the start of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and The Nature Conservancy of Montana (TNC) will provide $9.4 million to fund the conservation aspects of the agreement and compensate the ‘sunk costs’ of mining and energy companies with leases (tenures) in the watershed.
On the Montana side, senators Baucus and Tester’s senate bill 233, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2011, awaits Senate committee action…
A related note by Jon Frederick, NFPA President:
If you want to send money to help make the Memorandum of Understanding complete — that is, to help the Nature Conservancies of The U.S. and Canada pay for expenditures of the exploration companies in the Flathead of British Columbia — write a check to The Nature Conservancy and send it to The Nature Conservancy, 32 South Ewing Street, Helena, MT 59601. Write “Flathead Now! Campaign” in the lower left corner or it won’t go where you wish.
Many of you already got an email from the National Parks Conservation Association announcing the opening of the “Protect Glacier” website. For those who haven’t seen the big announcement yet, here it is:
More than 30 years ago, fans of Glacier National Park were alarmed to learn of Canadian coal mining plans that would tear down entire mountains along the park’s northwestern border.
Today, after decades of international negotiation and diplomacy, those plans finally have been scuttled, with Canada pledging to protect the park’s world-class waterways from upstream mining. Today the United States is working to do the same.
Even as major energy companies (including Chevron, BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips) volunteer to retire their mining and drilling leases on Glacier’s western fringe, lawmakers struggle to pass protective measures prohibiting future mining of public lands in the North Fork Flathead River drainage.
That’s why a coalition of concerned citizens and Glacier Park lovers — with help from the National Parks Conservation Association — has brought this historic issue into the dot.com future, with a website and clearing house dedicated to resolving land-use conflicts in the transboundary Flathead.
ProtectGlacier.com went live this week, a virtual world where visitors can explore maps and photographs from the Flathead, can learn about what’s at stake and flipthrough years of reports and research. They can read the latest park news, Tweet and re-Tweet and link to Facebook, and they can listen to what people are saying about the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. That legislation (S.233) has been introduced by Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and would withdraw public lands adjacent to the park from future drilling – just as the Canadians have done on their side of the border.
Online visitors to the site can sign a ProtectGlacier.com letter of support of the legislation, adding their voices to the thousands who already have spoken up on behalf of America’s finest alpine park.
This Website represents the future – our future, Glacier Park’s future – but it’s also just the latest chapter in a very old story, a story that Glacier’s advocates have been helping to write for decades. This is, in fact, how history gets written. So pick up that keyboard, and be sure to add a few lines of your own at ProtectGlacier.com.
Further reading: The National Parks Traveler website also has a good article about the ProtectGlacier.com site.
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” . . .
From today’s Missoulian . . .
A proposal to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River from mining got a friendly reception at a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday.
“You have convinced me Glacier (National Park) and the North Fork are true jewels of the West,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources acting chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. “We’re going to get your bill out of this committee and onto the president’s desk.”
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From today’s Daily Inter Lake . . .
Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester testified Wednesday in support of legislation that would permanently withdraw federal lands in the North Fork Flathead River drainage from future leases for energy development.
The two testified in support of their North Fork Watershed Protection Act before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests in Washington, D.C.
It is the latest step in a cooperative agreement with British Columbia that bans mining in the North Fork river corridor on both sides of the border, including areas near Glacier and Waterton national parks.
Continue reading . . .