September 21, 2009
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt
Contact: Wade Muehlhof
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - At the invitation of the United States and Canada, the World Heritage Committee has sent experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to visit Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park this week to evaluate the status of the joint U.S. – Canadian Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park World Heritage Site and provide recommendations regarding requirements for the long-term protection of Waterton-Glacier, in particular from potential external threats in the Flathead River Valley.
Consisting of Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, the International Peace Park was proclaimed by the governments of Canada and the United States in 1932, making it the world’s first such transboundary park. The two parks were designated a joint World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the area’s spectacular scenery, geology, biological diversity and abundant wildlife, including grizzly bears, gray wolves, wolverine, lynx and other top predators. The parks protect an important biological crossroads at the point where the Rocky Mountains reach their narrowest width. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park also serves as a celebration of the longest undefended contiguous border between two nations and a reminder that many natural resources have no boundaries.
At its session in June 2009, the World Heritage Committee expressed concern over proposed coal mining and oil and gas development in the Flathead Valley in British Columbia. Inside the U.S., the Flathead River forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, and numerous wildlife species move regularly between the World Heritage Site and the Flathead Valley. The Committee requested that the U.S. and Canada invite a joint IUCN-UNESCO mission to the area as soon as possible to see first-hand the current situation and prepare a report for the Committee’s consideration at its next session in 2010. In addition, the U.S. and Canada will prepare a joint report on the World Heritage site’s “state of conservation” for consideration by the Committee next year.
Between September 21 and 27, the IUCN -UNESCO team will visit Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park and several sites in the Flathead Valley and elsewhere in the greater “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem.
- NPS -