Senators: Glacier Park should be on endangered world heritage list

Baucus, Tester Urge For Designation To Help Stop Mining, Drilling Proposals On Northern Border

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As part of their ongoing efforts to stop mining and drilling proposals on the Montana-Canada border, Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today urged top U.S. officials to add Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to the 'List of World Heritage in Danger.'

In 1995, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, inscribed Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park as a World Heritage site. In 1972, the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage determined that World Heritage sites can be added to the 'List of World Heritage in Danger' if the danger to the site can be determined as "serious and specific."

Baucus and Tester today asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to add Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to the List of World Heritage in Danger citing that the proposed mining and drilling would "contaminate one of the park's most pristine rivers, destroy the habitat of endangered species, and compromise the natural character that makes the Peace Park a world treasure."

"Coal mining and coal bed methane extraction pose multiple and immediate threats to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park," wrote Baucus and Tester. "Coal mining and coal bed methane extraction near the borders of the park will not only be degrading downstream habitat in the park, but will also be contributing to the rapid deterioration of one of this World Heritage site's most unique natural resources.  While fossil fuels will be a part of the world economy for years to come, they must be developed appropriately.  This is impossible to accomplish at the doorstep of a World Heritage Site."

Both senators have opposed the Cline Mining Company's proposal to mine coal, as well as British Petroleum's proposal to tap coalbed methane seams, in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River, which borders Glacier National Park and runs into Montana's Flathead Lake.  Should the projects advance, Baucus and Tester say there could be devastating consequences to Montana's fish, wildlife, and the recreation industry in the Flathead with no economic benefits or jobs for Montanans.

Baucus helped defeat a similar mining proposal in the same area in 1988.

"The park and its abundant natural resources are invaluable additions to the heritage sites that enjoy the protection of UNESCO," Baucus and Tester wrote. "We're committed to working together with Montanans, U.S. government officials and those on the world stage to take whatever means necessary to protect Glacier Park."

To add Glacier Park to the List of World Heritage in Danger, Secretaries Rice and Kempthorne must petition the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO for its inclusion.  The World Heritage Committee then evaluates the nature of the threat to determine if the site warrants inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger.