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$9.4 Million Secures B.C. Mining and Energy Ban in Headwaters

You've read the headlines in the local papers: the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC-US) have committed $9.4 million to the government of British Columbia to conclude the historic B.C. - Montana MOU signed in February of last year. As part of the deal, the B.C. will enact legislation banning the extraction of minerals, oil, gas, and coal within the watershed. From our point of view, this monetary transaction appears to seal the deal. Last year's MOU was a pencil check against mining and energy development in the headwaters. This transaction and the promised legislation makes it a check with a permanent marker. Thank you! NCC, TNC, Senator Baucus, Governor Schweitzer, Premier Campbell, Senator Tester, Secretary Salazar, Canadian Ambassador Doer, Canadian Minister for the Environment Kent, and our friends and allies in Canada and the U.S. who pushed this issue over the finish line! Campaign Goals Remain! This money transfer will settle the mining and energy extraction issue in B.C. However, it represents just one of several campaign goals to permanently protect the Transboundary Flathead. Headwaters Montana remains focused on the complete conservation of the watershed, not yet in hand. For Canadians, the B.C. portion of the watershed logging, trophy hunting for grizzly bears, rock quarrying and increased road access continue to pose risks. Local Canadians, by a 60-65 percent margin, want to see Waterton Lakes National Park ' completed'. They also want the wildlife management area (WMA) from the border to Banff National Park along the Rockies re-established. South of the border, Headwaters Montana continues to work for full protection of the Whitefish Range, west of the North Fork Flathead River. (More on this in future issues!) How the Press Reported It The local papers got the story mostly right, but key points need clarification. The money hasn't been delivered yet; the conservancies made a commitment to the province. NCC has made the bigger commitment of up to $6 million; this is Canadian federal money and comes from the federal Natural Areas Conservation Program and will be transferred to the CNN before going to B.C. B.C. will probably compensate the 'sunk' costs of mining companies but is under no legal obligation to do so. The conservancies made the commitments to secure the MOU, as well as to insure that the B.C. government follows through on broader conservation commitments for the watershed. The money is at least partly refundable to the conservancies if the B.C. government fails to protect those broader conservation goals.