Last week, the government of British Columbia, the governor of Montana, and the state's senators signaled an intention to work together to protect the Flathead River Basin, an ecologically valuable area bordering Glacier National Park in the southeastern portion of B.C. The agreement is a huge step toward ensuring protection and connectivity across that region's border with Canada. The Flathead Valley extends into Montana and is often considered the missing piece of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
For years, mining interests have been pushing for access to resources in the North Fork Flathead drainage. Last Tuesday, however, B.C.'s government passed legislation that bans the mining plans on the Canadian Flathead. On Thursday, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) followed suit by announcing their intention to introduce similar legislation that would protect the U.S. portion of the Flathead.
Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
This is truly bi-national cooperation to protect an iconic ecosystem that needs all the help it can get adapting to a warming world. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was the first park of its kind and this agreement follows in that same spirit. The challenges of climate change will not stop at borders and this will act as a model for countries cooperating to achieve the same goal.