Senate panel advances language seeking permanent North Fork protection
Measure directs steps to prevent mining forever in Flathead watershed
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed legislation that includes language by Senator Jon Tester seeking permanent protection for the North Fork of the Flathead, Tester and Senator Max Baucus announced today.
The Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act states that the Committee, which oversees the federal government’s discretional spending, “expects the Department of State to work with the Department of the Interior to negotiate with the Government of Canada to establish an agreement that permanently protects the Flathead River Watershed and the adjacent area of Glacier-Waterton National Park as soon as possible.”
In February, Governor Brian Schweitzer signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding with British Columbia to keep future oil, gas and mining out of the North Fork.
“Both sides of the border recognize the importance of protecting the North Fork of the Flathead for today and for generations to come,” Schweitzer said. “This is another step building on the MOU we signed with British Columbia.”
“Protecting the North Fork means protecting a big part of Montana’s outdoor heritage so we can pass down those values to our kids and grandkids, and this language is another step in the right direction,” Tester said. “Max, Brian, and I will keep fighting to make sure that this area, one of the most beautiful in the world, is around for future Montanans to hunt, fish, and enjoy.”
“It’s important to make sure the North Fork remains as special as it is today for future generations,” said Baucus, who has been working for more than three decades to protect the North Fork from mining, oil and gas development. “The North Fork is just too special to risk with development, and this means we’re even closer to a final decision to keep it protected for future generations.”
The full language approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee reads:
Flathead River Basin. – The Committee supports efforts to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River from the effects of oil, gas, and other mining development. The Committee expects the Department of State to work with the Department of the Interior to negotiate with the Government of Canada to establish an agreement that permanently protects the Flathead River Watershed and the adjacent area of Glacier-Waterton National Park as soon as possible. The Committee also supports the International Joint Commission’s recommendation that Canada and the United States continue to collect ecological data concerning this area.