For over three years, Ecojustice has been assisting a coalition of 11 groups seeking to protect and expand one of North America’s iconic natural areas.

Waterton-Glacier National Park straddles the Canada-US border between Alberta and Montana, where it has been a testament to environmental care and international cooperation since 1932. However, recognition of this stunning ecosystem has reached far beyond our two nations, and in 1995 the park was named a UNESCO World Heritage site:

It was proposed in 1931, uniting Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first such park in the world. It was intended not just to promote peace and goodwill between nations, but also to underscore the international nature of wilderness and the co-operation required in its protection.

That spirit of goodwill and cooperation is under threat thanks to the mining policies of British Columbia. BC’s Flathead River Valley borders Waterton-Glacier on both the Alberta and Montana borders, with the Flathead River itself flowing directly into the park. It represents an integral part of the greater ecosystem, which means that mining actions in the Flathead could have devastating impacts for species and watersystems in Waterton-Glacier.

Because of these threats, in June 2008 lawyers from Ecojustice and Earthjustice (US) filed a request with the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to have to list Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Last month at a meeting in Seville, Spain, the 21-member Committee voted unanimously to send a mission to “evaluate and provide recommendations on the requirements for ensuring the protection” of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Waterton Glacier Map

Vancouver Sun reporter Larry Pynn will be reporting his first hand experience of the Flathead next week. Meanwhile we’re working to ensure that mining interests do not jeopardize the park, and pushing to have the protected area broadened to include the Flathead River Valley.

More to come….