Momentum in the Flathead
By Krystal Northey, Flathead Associate
Last year, I spent my summer as Y2Y’s Flathead Associate, speaking to people in southern Alberta about the natural beauty and ecological value of the last unsettled valley of its kind in all of Southern Canada – the Flathead River Valley. Most importantly, I shared why we need to protect it.
“The Flathead valley is a hiker’s paradise,” I told them. “There are thousands of wildflowers to color the meadows, a diverse array of wildlife, and some of the purest water in the world – wonderful for quenching your thirst after a long day on the trail. To keep it in this pristine state we need to protect it."
Often their response would be, “Never heard of the place, but tell me more."
This year however, instead of blank stares and basic questions like ‘Where is it?’, people display a more engaged understanding of the Flathead. ‘Wasn’t the Flathead in the news recently?’ and ‘How close are you to making it a national park,’ they ask. Fortunately, I can say we are making progress, and protection is coming in all shapes and sizes.
PROTECTION COMES IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
We protect the places we are connected to and this is the case whether you are an individual or a company. In September of 2013, mining company Teck Resources Ltd. announced it would purchase three parcels of land totaling 17,668 acres (7,150 ha) in British Columbia’s Flathead and Elk Valleys for $19 million for conservation purposes.
All three parcels are located in one of the most critical wildlife linkage zones in the entire Y2Y region, and are strategic to the overall goals of the campaign. In addition to safeguarding the lands, media from the sale has helped raise public awareness about the Flathead, reigniting the public’s love for this place and the need to protect it.
KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING
My job this year is to keep this momentum going, to ignite a connection to the Flathead in the hearts of the public.
After more than a year of talking to everyday people about the value of the Flathead I have no doubt that there is the will necessary to make it into a national park. Stewardship is a common theme throughout all my conversations.
In different ways, the people I speak with feel a great connection with, and responsibility for, Canada’s wild landscapes. Whether it’s a rancher, a business leader, or an outdoor enthusiast (or someone who is all three), everyone is eager to find out how they can help the campaign.
So now I urge you to help the Flathead, click here and send your message of support for a national park in the southeastern one-third of the Flathead and for a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat.
I believe the day when the Flathead is protected and its diversity and beauty are secured is not far away, and I know connecting with people like you will help make it happen.