Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Coalition Presents Mining Threats to U.N. Scientists

    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Ben Barron:
It Takes a Good Lawyer To Be a Good Steward

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For examp...

by David Lawlor:
I Brake For Cute Animals

Rose Eveleth has an interesting piece on the National Resource Defense Council’s OnEarth blog about zoos choosing to house only the cutest, &ldq...

by Raviya Ismail:
Something's Fishy

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission filed court papers arguing that ...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Tim Preso's blog posts
24 September 2009, 3:53 PM
Protections urged for Flathead basin, rich in wildlife and water resources
Flathead River. Photo: Garth Lenz

A United Nations investigation is focusing much-needed international attention on mining and drilling threats to the Flathead River basin, home to the highest density of grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains, and to bull trout, bald eagle, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, deer, mountain lion, lynx, wolves, and wolverines.

The Flathead River stretches from southern Canada into Montana and along the way flanks Montana's stunning Glacier National Park. The region comprising Glacier N.P. and Waterton Lakes—Glacier's Canadian sister park—is a World Heritage site and Biosphere Reserve known as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

"The world has a stake in what happens here at Waterton-Glacier," declared Kishore Rao, deputy director of the World Heritage Centre for the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), upon beginning a week-long inquiry into mining and drilling on lands adjacent to Glacier N.P. and Waterton Lakes.

I presented information to Rao and his UNESCO colleague Paul Dingwall as the international body's investigation began on September 21 in West Glacier, Montana. Since 2008, Earthjustice has represented the eleven groups that are petitioning UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to urge stronger protection of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Concerned citizens and scientists on both sides of the border are calling on British Columbia and Montana to permanently protect the outstanding landscapes and wildlife of the Flathead River basin, which has some of the purest water and unspoiled wildlife habitats in North America. Most urgently, the coalition is urging the provincial government of British Columbia to permanently protect the Flathead valley from energy development and gold mining. 

In June, the coalition of Flathead conservationists sent representatives to lobby delegates at the annual session of the World Heritage Committee in Seville, Spain. At the same time, 53,000 citizens from across Canada and the United States wrote to decision makers in support of the petition. A video message from Salish-Kootenay tribal leadership to UNESCO also supported the call to prevent pollution in the headwaters of the Flathead River.

As a result, the Committee voted unanimously to urge Canada not to allow coal mining and coalbed methane drilling in the headwaters of the Flathead River that flows from British Columbia into Glacier National Park

Immediately afterward, Bill Bennett, the local member of the legislative assembly for southeastern British Columbia who had long supported mining in the Flathead, reversed his stance.

In an encouraging development elsewhere in Canada, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador recently reversed his support for running new power lines through Gros Morne National Park, also a World Heritage site. His decision was due in part, he said, to avoid threatening its UNESCO World Heritage status. Perhaps his change of heart was influenced by the Flathead coalition's successful petition and lobbying of the World Heritage Committee.

We will keep you updated on the outcome of the UN mission to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.