|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||June 26, 2009|
|Contact:||Kathleen O'Neil, Associate Director, Media Relations, National Parks Conservation Association 202.419.3717|
NPCA Commends UNESCO Action to Protect Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Seville, Spain—The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee today affirmed the concerns described in an international petition submitted by 12 United States and Canadian conservation organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The organizations had asked the World Heritage Committee to list Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park as a World Heritage site “In Danger” due to proposed mining activities in headwaters of the British Columbian Flathead River Valley in Canada. The Flathead River flows through the Peace Park.
While the committee did not list the park as “In Danger” at this time, the 21 members of the committee voted unanimously to send a UNESCO mission to Waterton-Glacier and the British Columbian Flathead Valley to “evaluate and provide recommendations on the requirements for ensuring the protection” of Waterton-Glacier. The committee also cited concern in its decision statement about the potential threats that mining and energy development within the Flathead Valley would have on water quality and ecosystem connectivity. It asked Canada and the United States to prepare a report by February 1, 2010 which examines all Flathead River Valley energy and mining proposals and their cumulative impacts.
“We’re glad that our concerns about protecting Waterton Glacier from mining now have the support of the global community,” said Will Hammerquist, program manager for NPCA’s Glacier Field Office, who is attending the meeting in Seville. “We believe these recommendations are a step forward in the ongoing effort to protect Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park for our children and grandchildren.”
The committee noted that the “integrity of the property is inextricably linked with the quality of stewardship of the adjacent areas within the international Crown of the Continent ecosystem,” and said that “the protection of [Waterton-Glacier] must be managed within the context of this greater ecosystem.” It also recognized the “high level of public concern” about a proposed coal strip mine and other energy and mining development in British Columbia’s Flathead River Valley, which forms an integral part of the same ecosystem and provides critical habitat for rare and endangered species migrating to and from Waterton-Glacier, such as grizzly bears.