Updated Oct. 5, 2011 for clarification
VICTORIA - The Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act, introduced Oct. 4, 2011, is intended to preserve the environmental values in the Flathead watershed.
The Flathead, in the East Kootenays, neighbours the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.
The introduction of legislation meets the commitment made in the 2010 memorandum of understanding signed with the state of Montana on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy.
The act, when passed and brought into force, will secure decisions made in 2010 to:
- Establish coal and mineral reserves.
- Prohibit Crown land dispositions for mining purposes.
- Prohibit issuance of Mines Act permits.
- Prohibit issuance of Oil and Gas Activities Act permits for oil and gas exploration and development.
- Prohibit disposition of Crown reserves under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act.
Parallel legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate to similarly remove mining, oil, and gas as permissible land uses in the Montana North Fork Flathead Basin, which neighbours B.C.'s Flathead valley. More than 80 per cent of existing oil and gas leases have already been retired in the area in the United States.
John Lounds, president and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada -
"The Flathead Watershed is an unparalleled natural treasure and it is heartening to witness the international collaboration that is going into protecting it."
"The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proud to help make possible the environmental protection of this ecologically and culturally important area."
- The Flathead River is one of North America's last wild rivers, and the area supports a variety of animals and a diverse collection of plants and fish.
- For more than 70 years, the B.C. Flathead Watershed Area has been successfully managed for logging, recreation, guiding and outfitting and trapping, and has maintained the healthy and diverse eco-system that exists today.
- The February 2010 memorandum of understanding with the state of Montana on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy was witnessed by representatives on the Ktunaxa Nation Council and the U.S. Confederated Salish and Kootenay Tribes.
- Under the February 2011 Agreement on the Protection of the Transboundary Flathead Watershed Area, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Nature Conservancy in the U.S. will contribute $9.4 million to assist implementation of the environmental protection provisions of the MOU, including compensation for current coal and mineral tenure holders.
To view the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy in full, go to: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/downloads/mou_final_BC%20Montana%20Environmental%20Agreement%20Flathead.pdf
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Lesley Marian Neilson
Communications Manager, BC Region
Nature Conservancy of Canada
250 661-2969 (cell)