Trout Unlimited, among other conservation organizations, is keeping a wary eye on logging operations in the Canadian Flathead . . .
Members of Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited are worried about potential timber harvest in the headwaters of the Canadian Flathead.
Two companies, Jemi Fibre and Canfor, hold privately owned forestland or lease government “crown” land within the watershed. Jemi recently purchased 130,000 acres in the Flathead and Kootenai watersheds. Canfor holds the area’s provincial crown timberland under a license “tenure” agreement.
Jemi’s holdings include approximately 10,000 acres of Sportsmans Ridge, encompassing Foisey and McLatchie creeks, both major tributaries of the North Fork Flathead headwaters. According to U.S. Geological Survey fisheries biologists, 30-40 percent of all bull trout spawning occurs just downstream of these tributaries. The Canadian Flathead becomes the North Fork of the Flathead in the U.S. and is the western boundary of Glacier National Park. For decades, the U.S. and Canada sparred over coal and gold mines in the Canadian Flathead. After decades of negotiation, the province and the U.S. agreed not to mine the drainage.
Now the dispute is turning toward logging…
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Trout Unlimited is also happy about passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .
The Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has long been committed to protecting the Flathead River system, one of the last best strongholds for native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. The recent bipartisan support and passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is a major step in the right direction. Hats off to Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh and to Rep. Steve Daines for working together to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from future mineral and energy development.
Given recent developments with coal mining in the Elk River drainage in British Columbia, and the continued low bull trout population numbers, as evidenced by annual counts of spawning beds, or “redds” in North Fork tributaries, the passage of this act is both timely and necessary.
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In an op-ed in the Ravalli Republic, The Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited came out in favor of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .
The Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has long been committed to protecting the Flathead River system, one of the last best strongholds for native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. While the North Fork of the Flathead River corridor is protected by the Wild and Scenic River designation, the eastern tributaries and uplands are secured in Glacier National Park, and the Canadian headwaters are protected by a provincial ban on mining and drilling, the nearly 400,000 acres of the North Fork watershed within the Flathead National Forest remain open to mineral and energy development.
The recent introduction of legislation by Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mineral entry and leasing is welcome news. Mirroring legislation in the Senate that was introduced earlier this year by Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act (HR 2259) would ensure the protection of the 400,000 acres of national forest land in the North Fork watershed by withdrawing federal lands from mining and mineral leasing. While existing leases would not be affected, already more than 200,000 acres of oil and gas leases have been voluntarily relinquished by several lease holders. Not only is this legislation widely supported in Montana, it also honors British Columbia’s commitment to do the same on their side of the border.
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