Large Private Land Deal in the Flathead
For more than a decade the Flathead Wild Team*, which includes Y2Y, has been diligently working to gain permanent protection for B.C.'s Flathead River Valley.
The area provides rich habitat for species including grizzly bear and a wide variety of bird species, and is a vital link in the Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor.
In 2011, the Flathead Wild team celebrated a legislated B.C. ban on energy and mining development in the Flathead. This October 17th was again cause for a celebratory toast, following the news that B.C.-based resource company Teck Resources Limited agreed to purchase 17,668 ac (7,150 ha) of private lands in B.C.’s Elk Valley and Flathead River Valley for conservation purposes.
“This is potentially one of the most important private land purchases for conservation ever done in western Canada,” says Harvey Locke, Y2Y’s strategic advisor. “These lands have no value to mining but they have significant value to conservation.”
Wildsight’s Executive Director John Bergenske and Y2Y’s Harvey Locke, both Flathead Wild team members, worked with Teck to highlight the conservation value of the land. Teck, for its part, saw an opportunity to make an important contribution to the community and to nature.
The purchase price for the lands is $19 million and the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013. The land consists of three blocks of land:
The Flathead Townsite (2451 ac / 992 ha): An undeveloped townsite along the river, this area is important for bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout as well as grizzly bears and birds.
Alexander Creek (7,655 ac / 3,098 ha): Ten kilometres east of Sparwood along the B.C.- Alberta border and on the north side of Highway 3, this parcel is critical for wildlife connectivity. It will help wide-ranging species such as grizzly bear and lynx make their way from Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park across Highway 3 to Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks.
Grave Prairie (7,647 ac / 3,095 ha): Less than ten kilometres northeast of Sparwood, this is an important wintering area for elk.
“We look forward to working with Teck on the details for stewardship framework for these lands,” says Bergenske.
Y2Y, along with other members of Flathead Wild, seeks to protect the Flathead permanently by creating a National Park in the south eastern one-third of the valley, to fill in the missing piece of the adjacent Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and World Heritage Site. Flathead Wild is also calling for a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat, to preserve a vital link in the continent’s longest remaining wildlife corridor.
*The Flathead Wild Team consists of representatives from: Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, Wildsight, Sierra Club BC, CPAWS BC, Headwaters Montana and the National Parks Conservation Association.