flathead

Flathead River Valley

Help permanently protect B.C.’s spectacular Flathead River Valley. We need a National Park in the south eastern one-third of the Flathead and a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat--to complete Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and preserve one of North America’s richest wildlife corridors.

Take Action

Protect the Missing Piece!
Protect the Missing Piece!
Let our governments know that you support a national park in the southeastern one-third of the Flathead, to fill in the missing piece of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and a Wildlife Management Area in the rest of the valley and adjoining habitat.
Speak up now!

The Flathead River Valley in the southeast corner of B.C. is one of the most biologically important places on the planet. Located next to the World Heritage Sites of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana, it is the missing piece in the world’s first International Peace Park.

The Flathead River Valley is unmatched in North America for the variety, completeness and density of carnivore species that live and breed there. It is a magical place that has never been permanently settled. The Flathead Valley is so wild that it has a grizzly bear every kilometre. All the native large animals – cougars, wolves, elk, deer, moose – still roam this valley. As rich in plant species as the Okavango Delta or the Serengeti, the Flathead is a mixing zone for plant species from north, south, east and west and is noted for its brilliant wildflowers. It remains a strategic, food-rich valley in the greater Rocky Mountain corridor.

At the 2010 G20 Summit, President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed that there should be a four-government international agreement about the transborder Flathead River watershed – it is that important.  Today, the future of the Flathead is in the hands of Canadian and United States governments, including B.C. and Montana.

B.C. announced a mining and energy ban in the Flathead Valley during the 2010 Olympics.  In November 2011 this ban was legislated by the B.C. government as the "Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act". This was a significant achievement for the campaign. However, we still need a national park and wildlife management area.

In the spring of 2012, Canada's Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada ("COSEWIC") reported significant risk to grizzly bear population (among thirty five other Canadian species), particularly in the Flathead River Valley due to hunting, mining, logging, infrastructure development, and territorial encroachment that is destroying habitats. Conservation efforts must follow Alberta and Montana in creating a national park to protect unique species.

Conservation significance

  • The Flathead is a key link for animals moving north and south through the Rocky Mountains from Montana's Glacier National Park to Canada's Rocky Mountain parks like Banff and Jasper.
  • The valley is home to a free-flowing river with exceptional water quality.
  • Highest concentration of grizzly bears in the interior of North America.
  • 6 hoofed species including elk and mule deer.
  • 10 native fish species.
  • Greatest predator-prey showdowns in North America, with all the native ungulates, cats and other clawed predators still competing for survival.
  • The only large, unsettled, low-elevation valley in southern Canada.
  • Oldest sedimentary formations in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Contains the greatest variety of plants and wildflower species in Canada with over 1000.

The threat

Mining and energy development have been banned in B.C.’s Flathead River Valley due to its ecological significance, but the valley is still open for logging.

Protecting wildlife

Logging, trophy hunting of grizzlies and other animals, increased road access, and quarrying still threaten the Flathead and its remarkable wildlife. British Columbia has no wildlife sanctuaries at all in its southeast region.

Protecting communities

A 2013 study clearly indicates that the Elk River, in southeast British Columbia, is being poisoned by toxic levels of selenium leaching from open-pit coal mining waste rock. The high rates of selenium – far in excess of provincial guidelines – have created a crisis for fish and other species in the Elk River.

What CPAWS is doing

Flathead Wild

CPAWS has long worked to ensure the protection of the Flathead as a national park and World Heritage Site as part of the Flathead Wild team.  CPAWS continues to advocate for a national park for the Flathead and a connecting wildlife corridor for animals to travel back-and-forth to Banff, as well as the inclusion by decision makers of First Nations governments on both sides of the border.

CPAWS team members are also available to come talk to your organization or class about the great value of the Flathead Valley.

Flathead BioBlitz

For the past four years in a row, the Flathead Wild team took a team of  biologists into the Flathead Valley to spend a week hiking through the spectacular river, valley and surrounding Rocky Mountains to document species. The 2012 Bioblitz results included the discovery of a brand new spider species, the first Canadian record of a rare spider, and the first B.C. sighting in 100 years of a Herrington’s Fingernail Clam. See the new video from our latest 2015 bioblitz here:

2015 Flathead Wild BioBlitz from Flathead Wild on Vimeo.

Resources

Flathead Wild - The Flathead Campaign is supported by The Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, Headwaters Montana, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club BC, Wildsight, and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Help protect Glacier National Park - part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world's first international peace park.

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