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article imageFlathead River Valley in B.C. is now protected from mining

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 11, 2010 in Environment
In the Speech from the Throne delivered Tuesday by British Columbia's Lieutenant-Governor Steven L. Point, the government announced its intention to work with the state of Montana to protect the Flathead River Valley.
Victoria, British Columbia - This beautiful valley located in the southeast of the province received the attention of the United Nations, which recently recommended the valley be protected from mining interests. The province of British Columbia was going to allow mining, in particular a coal mine to proceed, and the ban took the mining industry by surprise. MAX Resource Corp., which was planning on mining gold in the region was shocked by the sudden announcement in the Speech from the Throne. The CEO of MAX, Stuart Rogers said "We are surprised and disappointed by the government's action, given our outstanding exploration results at Crowsnest in 2009 and we will seek adequate compensation."
The Speech from the Throne was short on details, saying only "... A new partnership with Montana will sustain the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses.
It will identify permissible land uses and establish new collaborative approaches to trans‑boundary issues.
Mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction will not be permitted in British Columbia's Flathead Valley."
The agreement between B.C. and Montana to protect the area will be signed next week. The river valley lies partially in British Columbia, Alberta and Montana.
While the move to protect the valley was good news to environmentalists who had been lobbying to protect the valley for years, B.C.'s mining industry has taken the news as a slap in the face. The head of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia, Gavin Dirom was particularly vocal. "This government has allowed certain special interests to trump effective, science-based planning that considers whether responsible mineral exploration and development can take place in B.C. Most important, the citizens of B.C. have now lost ever more of their mineral land base and future economic opportunities."
The Association pointed out that under the land use plans for the Flathead Valley just scrapped by the government, 16% of the area would have been preserved. It is not known how many resource extraction proposals had been in the works, but the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer and B.C.'s Premier, Gordon Campbell have said those interests with money invested in the area would receive compensation.
Alberta and Montana had already inked an agreement to protect the portion of the Flathead River Valley that lies in Alberta.
A neighbouring area, the Waterton-Glacier, will be preserved by both Canada and Montana as an International Peace Park. Will Hammerquist, spoke for the National Parks Conservation Association, saying "As the world's first international peace park, Waterton-Glacier is more than just a national park. It is an icon of international cooperation, peace between nations, and the special relationship between Canada and the United States."
The river valley is the last remaining undeveloped low-lying river valley, and is also significant because of the diversity of life in the valley.
More about Flathead river valley, Coal mine, Flathead wild, Brian schweitzer
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