The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a designated World Heritage Site and is part of a large preserved ecosystem known as the "Crown of the Continent", which is primarily untouched pristine wildlife habitat. Virtually all the plants and animals which existed at the time European explorers first entered the region are present in the park today.
Upstream of Waterton-Glacier Peace Park on its northwestern border, lies Canada's Flathead River Valley, a 330,000-acre area in southeastern British Columbia with some of the purest water in the world, the greatest diversity of plants in all of Canada and the highest density and diversity of carnivores in all of North America. The Flathead teems with many species that are threatened elsewhere, including grizzlies, lynx, badgers, fishers, wolverines and bull trout. The region provides one of only two remaining areas within the Yellowstone to Yukon region where wide-ranging species can move freely between the U.S. and Canada.
While much of the Crown of the Continent has been permanently protected, the Canadian Flathead has no protection and has been under threat from coalbed methane drilling and gold and phosphate mining proposals. In Feb 2010, the Canadian government announced that mining and oil and gas development would be banned in the Flathead. However, in the absence of permanent protection, the Flathead is still open to industrial logging, off-road vehicles, transportation development and other disturbances, threatening the integrity of the landscape as connectivity habitat.
There has been a proposal on the table to create a better peace park for nearly 100 years, to add the Canadian Flathead as an addition to Waterton Lakes National Park, which would connect and preserve a vital corridor for wildlife moving north and south through the Rocky Mountains.
In December 2010, more than 80% of dormant oil and gas leases in the North Fork Flathead were retired, though a handful of parcels remain in contention by smaller firms.
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