Commercial Lodges Threaten the Flathead Valley (Withdrawn!)

UPDATE: The project proposal has been withdrawn. The developer told the media that they didn’t want to go ahead with so much local opposition. In other words, your comments worked and kept the Flathead Wild for grizzlies and for all of us! You can still sign the Flathead Wild petition calling for permanent protection, but this one is dead.

ORGINAL: Deep in the far reaches of the BC Flathead Valley, a land use application has been quietly filed for two backcountry lodges, just outside the boundaries of the remote Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park. The lodges, along with 22 cabins, horse corrals and 49 kilometres of trails for guided tours, would fragment core habitat and threaten grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats and bighorn sheep roaming between Canada and the US.

B.C.’s Flathead River Valley, a huge unsettled backcountry area bordering on Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, is home to internationally significant biodiversity ranging from the densest population of grizzlies in inland North America to invertebrates, bats, flowering plants and much more. For decades, locals and conservationists from both sides of the border have worked to officially protect this part of the Flathead Valley as a wilderness area—not for humans, but for nature.

Two lodges, 22 cabins and regular guided tours year-round would bring hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists into the very heart of this wilderness.

Please send a message today to key decision makers in the BC Government standing up against this proposal. Send a message to BC’s political leaders standing up for grizzlies, wolverines and goats. Send a message to Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski to keep some of our last remaining southern wilderness wild.

Biologists tell us, again and again, that grizzlies, wolverines, and other carnivores need space to roam. Grizzlies need their summer avalanche path feeding zones to fatten up for their long hibernation. Wolverines need isolated dens to raise their young underneath the winter snow. Grizzlies, wolverines and other wildlife needs to be able to move hundreds, sometimes thousands, of kilometres over the landscape to mate, to establish their own homes after leaving their parents and simply to find food. And humans, with our roads, our buildings, our garbage and simply our presence, are the prime threat to habitat and connectivity. It’s a simple equation, confirmed by study after study: more humans, fewer grizzlies, wolverines, lynx, fishers, and other species.

You’d think such an important area would already have some protections. And you’d be right: the Kootenay-Boundary Land Use Plan and the Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan ban building permanent tourism facilities, prohibit road access and caution against too many formal trails and too many humans. But land use plans, though they may have been hard fought, are often ignored. These land use plans certainly didn’t stop this application from the lodge developers, a company that operates front-country facilities on the other side of the Rockies in Waterton National Park.

When push comes to shove, land use plans just aren’t enough. That’s why we’ve been working for decades to establish a wilderness protected area in the southeast third of the BC Flathead Valley. That’s why locals on both sides of the border and people from across the continent want permanent protection. We don’t need another park with lodges, cabins and guided tours. What wildlife and this special diverse ecosystem need is a true wilderness protected area—and we’ll never have that if these lodges are built.

Please take a minute today to send a message to key decision makers in the BC Government to defend this wilderness against these lodges, cabins and guided tours. Stand up to keep this wilderness wild today, so that it can be permanently protected tomorrow.

You can read our detailed technical comments to the BC Lands Tenure Branch in this PDF.