"The Missing Piece"

"Could a swath of the B.C. Flathead Valley become a national park?"

"On the ridge before us, a beast the color of winter hobbled on a broken left back leg. The mountain goat’s injury made him easy prey for predators and hunters. During hunting season, these goats wander in and out of protected areas, in and out of the range of hunters who value their snow-white trophy coats. The goat is protected from rifles by going into Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in Alberta or Montana, but here in British Columbia’s Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, he can be legally hunted. Yet there’s no map to show him the route to protection, no lines on the land marking a safe passage. If he’s to find sanctuary, he’ll have to do it the hard way, through trial and error, with more than a fair bit of luck along the trail.

It was mid-August. The team of scientists and conservationists had been in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park for four days when we climbed the spine ridge to Forum Peak. We were there to glass for wildlife and to discuss Harvey Locke’s dream of expanding Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park westward, into B.C.’s Flathead Valley. Like many conservationists, he’d like to protect another 100,000 acres here, which would add to the 1.1 million acres already protected in Waterton-Glacier. Glacier National Park anchors the northernmost reaches of Montana’s Rocky Mountains, pressed hard to the Canadian line. East of the Continental Divide in Canada, Glacier is bordered by Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park, and together they form the world’s first international peace park. West of the Divide and across the border, however, Glacier is bounded by B.C.’s Flathead River Valley, a mostly unprotected expanse that for years has been a target for miners, loggers, hunters, and others. Here, the transboundary Flathead Valley and its flanking mountain ranges create a sweeping north-south migration corridor that has been used by both humans and wildlife for millennia."

Benjamin Alva Polley reports for the Flathead Beacon with photography by Steven Gnam September 4, 2019.

Source: Flathead Beacon, 09/12/2019