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Flathead Valley (Nov/08)

Residents Support National Park in the Flathead River Valley

One of the most pristine wilderness areas in the Yellowstone to Yukon region with exceptional water quality, wildlife habitat and plant diversity has strong support from locals for permanent protection. A new poll shows that 73 percent of residents near the Flathead River Valley in southeastern British Columbia support protecting the lower one-third of the valley as a national park.

Flathead Valley

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The poll, conducted for the Sierra Club of BC and Wildsight, questioned 910 residents in the electoral ridings of East Kootenay, Nelson-Creston and Columbia River-Revelstoke. It found that only 16 percent of respondents would oppose a national park, and that spending time in nature is a favorite activity of 92 percent of residents.

The Flathead River Valley is an important area in the Yellowstone to Yukon region as it provides a key connection for animals moving north and south through the Rocky Mountains. As one of the last unsettled low elevation valleys in southern Canada, it has some of the purest water in the world and an abundance of wildlife species that live and breed there.

To date the Flathead Valley has experienced low industrial activity, but a proposal is being considered by the BC Government for a coal strip mine in the valley. “This project would remove 40 million tons of coal from the region and dump waste rock into Foisey Creek, contaminating this headwater stream and threatening two at-risk trout species,” said Sierra Club BC spokesperson Sarah Cox. Other proposals for coal-bed methane drilling and mineral extractions also threaten the region.

The valley is also a popular location for hunters; the survey revealed that 34 percent of residents view recreational hunting as important to their way of life. If the lower one-third of the valley becomes a national park, hunting would be illegal there. However, Wildsight and Sierra Club BC want the remaining two-thirds of the valley to be established as a wildlife management area, where hunting would be allowed.

Conservation groups would like to see the valley preserved as an extension of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which spans Alberta and Montana. Parks Canada has included the Flathead Valley in its National Parks Action Plan but needs approval from the BC Government before proceeding.


Video: BC Global TV News coverage of this story

 

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