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Press Release



World Heritage Committee to Send a Mission to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park



09/22/2009

Contact: Hugh Vickery
202-208-6416

WASHINGTON, DC,- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that at the invitation of the United States and Canada, the World Heritage Committee is sending experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to visit the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park next week. The experts will evaluate the status of the joint U.S - Canadian World Heritage site and provide recommendations for long-term protection of the park, in particular from potential external threats in the Flathead River Valley.

“As we approach the centennial of Glacier National Park in 2010 and the 78th anniversary of the International Peace Park, we hope that we can join with Canada and all our international partners to help protect the region’s unique landscape, beautiful rivers, and abundant wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “The World Heritage meeting taking place next week is a major step forward in our efforts to protect one of North America’s great natural treasures.”

In August, Secretary Salazar joined Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester in visiting Glacier National Park where they were able to experience the unique beauty of the park first hand.

Consisting of Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, the International Peace Park was proclaimed by the governments of Canada and the United States in 1932, making it the world’s first such transboundary park. The two parks were designated a joint World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the area’s spectacular scenery and diverse abundant wildlife, including grizzly bears, gray wolves and other top predators. The parks protect an important biological crossroads at the point where the Rocky Mountains reach their narrowest width. The International Peace Park also serves as a celebration of the longest undefended contiguous border between two nations and a reminder that many of our natural resources have no boundaries.

At its session in June 2009, the World Heritage Committee expressed concern over proposed coal mining and oil and gas development in the Flathead Valley in British Columbia. Inside the United States., the Flathead River forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, and numerous wildlife species move regularly between the World Heritage site and the valley. The Committee requested that the U.S. and Canada invite a joint IUCN-UNESCO mission to the area as soon as possible to see first-hand the current situation and prepare a report for the Committee’s consideration at its next session in 2010. In addition, the U.S. and Canada will prepare a joint report on the World Heritage site’s “state of conservation” for consideration by the Committee next year.

Between September 20 and 27, the IUCN-UNESCO team will visit Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park and several sites the Flathead Valley and elsewhere in the greater “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem.