Flathead Wild is a coalition of six environmental groups including Wildsight as the local partner. We support a conservation vision for BC’s Flathead River Valley and southern Rockies based on the best available science.
The vision includes the completion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park through the protection of one third of BC’s Flathead River Valley. As a National Park Reserve, designated as wilderness, this remote area would become a wildlife sanctuary with development limited to trails and campsites.
Parks Canada’s National Park completion strategy includes the extension of Waterton into BC’s Flathead Valley.
This wildlife sanctuary would be connected to Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks (Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, Jasper) through a provincial Southern Rockies Wildlife Management Area (SRWMA). The SRWMA would include two thirds of BC’s Flathead, the entire Wigwam, the west side and headwaters of the Elk and the east side of the Bull River Valleys.
The SRWMA would prioritize wildlife protection and wilderness stewardship while managing continued multiple recreational and commercial uses.
The current land use plan for the southern Rockies, outside of the Flathead, prioritizes mineral and energy development over all other values.
Wildsight supports Tembec in its continued Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified operations in the region—including the two thirds of the Flathead in the SRWMA.
An independent expert panel report commissioned by the B.C. government concludes: “Grizzly bears are likely to persist in greatest numbers in such places as national parks or wilderness areas where the maintenance of naturally functioning ecosystems is given a high priority for management.”
The panel recommended “…the establishment of a Grizzly Bear Management Area within each bioclimatic region of the province. This should include provisions for maintaining connectivity between grizzly bear populations to facilitate movements.” _(Peek et al, 2003 Management of Grizzly Bears in B.C)
Right now there are no wildlife sanctuaries in BC’s southern Rockies.
Flathead Wild’s vision is supported by the majority of local residents and more than 10,000 Friends of the Flathead from throughout the East Kootenay, BC, Canada and around the world.
As for public opinion, two statistically valid (within 3.9%) random digit dial surveys in 2008 and 2009 in the East Kootenay showed that a majority of East Kootenay (67%) and Elk Valley residents (60%) support a national park in the southeastern third of BC’s Flathead.
For more facts and to join the effort to protect and connect BC’s Flathead River Valley, sign up as a Friend of the Flathead at www.flathead.ca
Ryland Nelson and Casey Brennan
Wildsight, Flathead-Southern Rockies Program