Posted by: VPSN | April 18, 2010

A National Park for the Flathead Valley?

Flathead ValleyPhoto by Dru! (Creative Commons license)

While we at the VPSN tend to focus our public space lens on Vancouver’s urban environment, we’re always keen to see what’s happening elsewhere in the province, country and around the world.

That’s why we were especially keen on an article by Bruce Kirby in this weekend’s Globe and Mail.  The piece looks at the possibility that the Flathead Valley – located in the south-eastern corner of BC – might become a national park.  The area in question is adjascent to a UNESCO heritage area, as well as an already existing set of parks in Canada and the US.  The discussion (see The Tyee Jan 3, 2008) has been on-going for a few years, but it’s nice to see some additional profile to this important issue.

Here’s an excerpt, with a link to the full article below:

Take a peek at the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on a map, and you’ll notice it looks like a pie – with a large slice cut out. That slice is the Flathead. Hidden on three sides by towering mountain ranges, and to the south by the impassable U.S. border, this remote river basin is a land that guards its secrets well.

In recent years, a real western-style dust-up has been erupting over the fate of the Flathead. The only unsettled, low-elevation valley of its size in southern Canada, and home to the highest concentration of grizzlies anywhere in the North American interior, it is also rich in resources. And plenty of fingers have been reaching for that slice of pie.

For years, conservation groups have pressed for an expansion of Waterton Lakes National Park to encompass a third of the Flathead Valley… (more)

It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out.  Already, the fact that both UNESCO and a number of US politicians (including Hillary Clinton) have weighed in to the discussion, offering their support, has caused some anxiety amongst Provincial politicians.  Add to that the debate amongst local NGOs (the BC Wildlife Federation, a hunters and anglers group, is opposed; Sierra Club BC, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and others are supportive), and its likely that the consensus on this will not be achieved anytime soon.

The story, in fact, is not unlike the recent conflict over another proposed park in the Okanagan Similkameen region. As with the Flathead site, the Flathead site also sees a variety of ‘issue frames’ being weighed against one-another — economic growth and jobs versus sustainability, tourism versus local residents, First Nations territories and government jurisdictions, raw resources versus the intrinsic values of the natural environment, and so on.

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Responses

  1. Lovely part of the province and would make a great addition to the parks system. I can see some parallels to the Okanagan proposal which may bog down a go-ahead. It is, however, in the SE corner of the province…in case anyone is out roaming around looking for it!

  2. Most definitely the SE… thanks to David and others for pointing that out! Edited to reflect the proper geography…

  3. […] April 18, 2010 – A National Park for the Flathead Valley …[W]e were especially keen on an article by Bruce Kirby in this weekend’s Globe and Mail.  The piece looks at the possibility that the Flathead Valley – located in the south-eastern corner of BC – might become a national park.  The area in question is adjascent to a UNESCO heritage area, as well as an already existing set of parks in Canada and the US. (More…) […]


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