Protection of this fabled international stream has emerged over the last few years without any formal designations-

There have been many threats over the years the North Fork and its vast drainage, most seeming to emerge up in British Columbia, the headwaters. B.C. conservation groups have hoped for enlarged provincial parks, and Americans have had to fight off subdivisions, paving, and some energy (mostly coal) development.

Several years ago things looked very dark on the B.C. side with plans for giant coal pit mines and coalbed methane wells by the thousands, but in just the last two years light has shined through the political forest and both sides are reascending development plans. In my opinion, B.C. has done the most, but that is where it needed to be done. Of course, not all was done out of altruism. Some suspect it was to fight off plans for Canadian additions to Waterton National Park, or provincial parks adjacent to America’s Glacier National Park.  Montana U.S. Senators Tester and Baucus have worked to get energy companies to give back 200,000 acres of leases in the North Fork draining south of the border.
“U.S.-Canadian ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ To Protect Montana River: A federal proposal would set aside the North Fork watershed from mining interests — and several energy companies are behind it.” By Kate Schwab. There remain “diehard land” exploiters in Montana, as the article in New West above describes. Wonder if Republican senate hope Denny Rehberg decides developing the North Fork would help him in his race?  It’s doubtful, but let’s watch.

Thinking how I took an extended trip to Flathead B.C. in 2008 for one last look to a doomed place, now I realize it was merely one hell of a fine trip!

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

One Response to U.S.-Canadian ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ Protects North Fork of the Flathead

  1. avatar Mike says:

    The North Fork of the Flathead is incredible. I fly fish this majestic river every year. I love the country around Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake. A very unique atmosphere in the lower 48.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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