Things are going to get real interesting on the U.S.-Canadian border where Glacier and Waterton Lakes national parks meet now that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee has voted to send a team to the parks to inspect threats to their resources.
During its meeting in Spain this week the committee voted unanimously to explore the concerns voiced by 12 United States and Canadian conservation organizations. The groups are worried about threats posed to the two parks by mining proposals for the headwaters of the Flathead River just to the north of Glacier and just west of Waterton Lakes.
The groups had asked the World Heritage Committee to declare the two parks a "World Heritage Site In Danger" due to the mining possibilities that Canadian officials so far seem to have supported. While the committee stopped short of doing that, it did agree to look into the matter.
Along with deciding to send an inspection team to the parks, the World Heritage Committee directed Canada and the United States to prepare a report by February 1, 2010, that examines all Flathead River Valley energy and mining proposals and their cumulative impacts.
“We’re glad that our concerns about protecting Waterton Glacier from mining now have the support of the global community,” said Will Hammerquist, program manager for National Park Conservation Association's Glacier Field Office, who attended the meeting in Seville. “We believe these recommendations are a step forward in the ongoing effort to protect Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park for our children and grandchildren.”