Well, now. The North Fork Watershed Protection Act just passed the U.S. House this afternoon . . .
The House of Representatives passed the North Fork Watershed Protection Act by voice vote on Tuesday afternoon, passing the issue back to the Senate for final approval.
Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., told his colleagues the bill was the first landscape protection act in nearly 30 years to get support from the whole state congressional delegation. Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, both Democrats, have also pushed it on their side of the Capitol.
“Sen. Max Baucus began working on this bill since his very first year in Congress, in 1974,” Daines said of the state’s former senior senator, who retired in February. “I’m proud to be part of the effort to get it done and across the finish line.”
Read more . . .
Further reading: North Fork Watershed Protection Act Passes U.S. House (Flathead Beacon)
Some good news from British Columbia: Teck Resources bought up a sizable amount of land (almost 28 square miles) in southeast British Columbia for conservation purposes, most of it in the Flathead River drainage. The Vancouver Sun has the story, including a map . . .
Mining giant Teck Resources will spend $19 million to buy thousands of hectares of land in southeast British Columbia for conservation, the company announced Thursday.
The company said it purchased more than 7,000 hectares in the Elk and Flathead river valleys from Tembec Inc., not for mining but to preserve wildlife and fish habitat. “While not amenable to mining, the lands have the potential to be used for conservation purposes,” the company announced.
Company president Don Lindsay said Teck will work with area First Nations and conservation groups to ensure the protection of key wildlife and fish habitat.
Read more . . .
Further reading: “Flathead Wild Congratulate Teck on Land Purchase”
And more: “Canadian Mining Giant to Buy Land North of Glacier Park for Conservation”
Since the announcement last week that the funding goal for money to compensate companies for losses when the Canadian Flathead was closed to development had been reached there’s been a fair amount of press coverage, mostly in the Canadian prfess. The Hungry Horse News this week put a nice, local spin on the event . . .
Bob Patterson, of Oregon, was slinging a line in the North Fork of the Flathead River last week, catching small cutthroat in a run at Glacier Rim.
He’d been on a big looping tour of famous waters in Canada and the U.S., but this was the first stop where he was getting into fish, even if they were small ones.
Patterson said he gave money to the Nature Conservancy’s campaign to compensate mining interests in the headwaters of the river and forever end the threat of mining and energy exploration in the Canadian Flathead. When asked why he did it, he shrugged.
“I’m always for the fish,” he said.
Continue reading . . .
It looks like the funding goal for money to compensate companies for losses when the Canadian Flathead was closed to development has been reached . . .
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (“NCC”) and The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) today announced that, through a collaboration of public and private partners, more than $10 million has been raised to help remove the biggest ecological threat to British Columbia’s Flathead River Valley — a spectacular wilderness area that straddles the Canada-U.S. border.
Thanks to the generous funding contributions from the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP); Warburg Pincus, a leading global private equity firm focused on growth investing; and other private donors, the Canadian portion of the Flathead River Valley is now permanently protected from mining and other sub-surface development.
The Government of Canada contributed $5.4 million to the project through the NACP for the conservation of the Flathead River Valley. Warburg Pincus is contributing $2.5 million to the project–the largest private contribution.
The funding is being used by the British Columbia government to implement the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act, which was passed last year. The legislation permanently prohibits coal mining as well as exploration and development of oil, gas and mineral resources on nearly 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of land in southeast British Columbia.
Continue reading . . .
Monday, August 20th was the Banquet on the Border; by all reports, a resounding success. Dave Haddon of Headwaters Montana wrote an excellent report on the whole affair. Since this report is still not available online, I am shamelessly
stealing adapting large portions of it here . . .
The Banquet on the Border – last Monday, August 20 – celebrated the British Columbia government’s 2011 official act of banning mining and energy development on their side of the watershed; the progress made to date to do the same in the U.S North Fork with Senate Bill 233 (the North Fork Watershed protection Act – still pending); and the other work that is moving forward to enhance protections for water and wildlife in the rest of the watershed, most notably:
- Completing Waterton-Glacier Peace Park by adding the ‘Missing Piece’ in the BC Flathead, and
- Protecting the existing international wildlife corridor between Whitefish and Banff National Park.
Headwaters Montana and National Parks Conservation Association organized the party for the south side of the boundary. Wildsight did so for the north.
Who Showed Up?
We invited the U.S. Border Patrol. But with the exception of a brief drive up and turn around we were left to securing our own borders and enjoying our neighborliness.
The Canadians outnumbered the Americans 3 to 2 but who’s counting? Their greater numbers stemmed from the week-long Flathead Bioblitz and Flathead Artists’ Workshop that was based at the Canadian border and had concluded the day before…
In addition to the ten Canadian and U.S. scientists who attended the bioblitz and some ten artists, members of the Flathead Wild Team and supporters filled out the Canadian tables.
On the U.S. side, Headwaters Montana board members and supporters showed up in good numbers, as well as representatives of the North Fork Preservation Association, board members of the Flathead Coalition, and The North Fork Landowners Association, North Fork Compact, and representatives for Senator Max Baucus.
20 Years Ago
Steve Thompson with the Cinnabar Foundation (Montana’s home-grown conservation fund) helped deepen the Banquet-goer’s appreciation for this far flung event by reminding folks that champions of the Transboundary Flathead had celebrated with a banquet at the same spot 20 years ago. Amazingly, four people from that 1992 event were on hand last week... [Our own John Frederick was one of them. – ed.]
More on the meeting earlier this week in Whitefish . . .
Conservationists are urging government leaders to add a 100,000-acre piece of Canadian wilderness to the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Leading ecologists meeting in Whitefish earlier this week said extending the park’s boundaries will connect wildlife corridors and help preserve one of the most intact ecosystems in North America.
“The idea is to fill in that missing piece of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and create a wildlife corridor that would extend from Whitefish to Banff,” Michael Proctor, the lead researcher for the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project said.
Continue reading . . .
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.
Continue reading . . .
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.
From a newsletter sent out yesterday by Headwaters Montana . . .
We need your help. Do you have just one day this summer to spend at spectacular Logan Pass to help complete the world’s first Peace Park: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park?
Last summer Headwaters Montana sponsored volunteers at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park to collect signed post cards from visitors who support doubling the size of Waterton Lakes National Park into the Flathead Valley in British Columbia (see map here). Volunteers collected the names of over 3,000 supporters last summer alone. The campaign to ‘Complete the Park’ and ‘Protect the Flathead’ now has well over 10,000 visible and vocal supporters.
Each supporter, like you, adds to the mounting inevitability of expanding Waterton Park. And while we already enjoy a super majority of supporters in south-east British Columbia and across the international boundary in Montana, we need to continue to build support to push this effort over the finish line.
We can achieve a breakthrough in the next year with your help.
Continue reading Headwaters Montana looking for volunteers to help “complete the park” →
This week’s Hungry Horse News column by Larry Wilson discusses the recent actions on both sides of the border to protect the North Fork watershed and takes a look at what might be coming next. His column is, as usual, recommended reading . . .
Since Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a memorandum of understanding with British Columbia, which promised up to 17 million dollars to Canadian companies for reimbursement for cash already spent, we have all wondered where he would find the money. Montana could not pay and for months efforts were made, without success, to get Uncle Sam to foot the bill.
Now it seems that an answer has been found! The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. Nature Conservancy have committed $9.4 million to the government of British Columbia to conclude the British Columbia-Montana memo of understanding signed a year ago. As part of the deal, the province of British Columbia will enact legislation banning the extraction of minerals, oil, gas, and coal within the watershed. With the two nature conservancy groups coming up with this money, protection of the upper North Fork is an important step towards completion.
Continue reading . . .