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Posted: June 11, 2017

Tourism development threatens Flathead wilderness

The wilderness and wildlife in B.C.’s Southern Rockies are under threat by a new proposal for a long-term tourism operation in one of the most remote corners of the Flathead River Valley, warn conservation groups with the Flathead Wild coalition.

Kishinena Creek. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

The proposed development would involve building backcountry lodges and guest cabins and operating a year-round tourism business right in the heart of one of southern B.C.’s last remaining wild landscapes, threatening grizzly bears, wolverines, and wildlife of all kinds.

“A development of this size in a place as sensitive and important as the Flathead is completely inappropriate, and must be stopped. Maintaining the backcountry characteristics of the region is absolutely essential to keeping these ecosystems intact and wildlife populations healthy in this critical part of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor,” says Candace Batycki, BC and Yukon Program Director for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

The proposal, funded by a tourism operator in Waterton National Park, would see two lodges and 22 cabins built right on the edge of a provincial wilderness park, leading to an unprecedented increase in human activity in a place that currently has no human settlement and sees very few visitors. This area supports globally-significant ecosystems and wildlife populations that are incredibly sensitive to human disturbance.

“It would be a major blow for these wildlife populations, not just in the Flathead but throughout the Southern Rockies region, to allow a development like this to go ahead, not to mention inconsistent with government policy and land-use planning for the region. Under no circumstances should this be approved,” said Ryland Nelson, Southern Rockies Program Manager for Wildsight.

The area is the focus of a long-standing campaign for legislated protection in the Flathead Valley as a new wilderness protected area, which would permanently protect its ecological values and secure important, intact habitat for wildlife in the long term. If approved, this proposal would make it impossible to establish a true wilderness protected area in the future.

“The Flathead Valley needs permanent protection for its wildlife and biodiversity, not tourist lodges, cabins and guided tours. Kept wild, this area can and should be protected into the future,” said Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager for CPAWS-BC.

Lead image: A view of the Akimina-Kishinena area. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

Submitted by the Flathead Wild coalition

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