Senators Continue To Seek Permanent Protection For transboundary Flathead region

(Washington D.C.) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today called for four-way, international talks between the U.S., Canada, the State of Montana and the Province of British Columbia to secure permanent protection for the North Fork of the Flathead River basin.

The Senators made their request immediately after the White House today announced that the United States and Canada are committed to ensuring the sustained protection of the Flathead River Basin and are exploring cooperative actions that can be taken to reach that goal. 

In a June 9 letter to Obama, Baucus and Tester asked the President to use the G-20 Summit to engage the Canadian government, because only an international treaty can provide permanent protection.  The G-20 Summit took place between June 25 and June 27. 

In their letter today to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, Baucus and Tester called for the quick start of 4 – party talks and asked for a meeting to chart the best path forward for the U.S. government’s role in the upcoming talks.

“Today’s announcement by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper marks the start of this next chapter in our nations’ transboundary work to protect the North Fork,” the Senators wrote.  “The Department of the Interior and the State Department will lead this effort, and we need to get started as quickly as possible with four-party talks involving the United States, Canada, British Columbia, and Montana.  President Obama took our request to take steps to protect this jewel of the continent, and we look forward to working with you to make this a reality.”

The Senators said the end goal of permanent protection would help both the U.S. and Canada.

“By codifying permanent protection for both sides of the border, we can protect this environmentally, economically and culturally significant region so that every American and every Canadian will know the same transboundary Flathead River Basin that we know today,” Baucus and Tester wrote. 

Baucus and Tester have worked tirelessly for decades to protect the North Fork for future generations.  They recently introduced the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2010 in March to prevent new oil and gas development mining in the watershed. The legislation bans future oil and gas leasing and mining on Federal lands in the North Fork. Baucus and Tester also negotiated the voluntary relinquishment of almost 174,000 acres of current oil and gas leases, free of charge to the American taxpayer.

Letters from June 9 and June 28 attached.