The wild Flathead River flows from British Columbia, Canada (where it is currently unprotected) south into Glacier National Park, Montana. The poplar forests along the river provide a seasonal home to a cacophony of songbirds and the uninhabited valley houses the densest population of grizzly bears in the interior of North America. The river’s water is so pure that it is used by researchers as an international benchmark of water quality and as a breeding area by endangered bull trout. The spectacular colors of rich plant life, bright yellow and orange lichens and lush green avalanche slopes make this valley unique, beautiful and globally significant. Yet, it is under threat from mining and oil and gas development.
The WILD Foundation is working closely with partners in Canada and the US to permanently protect this key conservation area, joining it the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. A few of our key contributions to this important international campaign include:
- Arranging for a group of top notch photographers associated with the International League of Conservation Photographers to come into the remote Flathead to for two weeks to document the valley’s rich fish, wildlife and natural beauty and send images out to the broader world. It was a spectacular success with major television, newspaper and radio stories appearing across Canada (enclosed is the story from the Vancouver Sun).
- Sponsoring the film Flathead Wild by ILCP that is now touring the film festival circuit in western North America.
- Arranging for a high visibility Flathead WILD both at the main entrance to the World Wilderness Congress in Merida, Mexico as well as a presentation on the Flathead. Important decision- makers were there.
- Participating as a key leader in the campaign through the involvement of WILD’s VP for Conservation Strategy, Harvey Locke. This includes developing shared campaign strategies that the team implements across North America, meeting with local people, First Nations, agencies and politicians, working with the press and organizing public events, thoroughly documenting the environmental values of the Flathead by engaging scientists, and writing popular and scholarly articles about the Flathead.
A few key milestone of this campaign:
June, 2010 – US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed how the relevant agencies in each country could support agreement between British Columbia (Canada) and Montana (USA) to protect the valley from oil and gas development. These leaders also discussed how the agencies could take further steps at a federal level to ensure the Flathead’s long-term protection. More information >
February 2010 – The government of British Columbia announced its intention to ban mining in the valley.
January 2010 – The film “Flathead Wild” produced by the International League of Conservation Photographers as part of the Flathead (RAVE) Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition premiered at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival and was presented at other film festivals in the US and Canada.
January 2010 – A United Nations report called for a ban on mining in the Flathead.