SEVILLE, Spain – The 21-nation World Heritage Committee has taken an important step to protect Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in Montana and Alberta, Canada, calling for a full report from a joint mission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Heritage Centre on the potential threats from proposed coal mining and oil and gas development in the region. The Committee is part of the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations, or UNESCO.
“As we approach the 77th anniversary of this spectacular international park, we hope that we can join with Canada and all our international partners to help protect its unique landscape, beautiful rivers, and abundant wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “The decision by the World Heritage Committee to request a state of conservation report on the park from the two countries and to urge no mining or energy development in the area until the joint mission is completed and its report reviewed by the committee is a major step forward in our efforts to protect one of North America's great natural treasures.”
“This action brings us another step closer to establishing the safeguards we need to protect Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park from mining and energy development proposals," said Senator Max Baucus. "The development of the joint state of conservation report by the United States and Canada is the beginning of a long partnership between our two nations to protect the Flathead Valley once and for all from potential threats of mining and energy development."
Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana on the United States side and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta on the Canadian side, were designated by law as the world's first International Peace Park in 1932. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is traversed by the Lewis Range and contains outstanding glacial lakes and alpine scenery and is significant as a habitat exceptionally rich in plant and mammal life.
The park protects an important biological crossroads at the point where the Rocky Mountains reach their narrowest width. It also serves as a celebration of the longest undefended contiguous border between two nations and a reminder that our natural resources have no boundaries.
The 21-nation World Heritage Committee, which concludes today in Seville, Spain, oversees the list of World Heritage Sites that are of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Sites that are deemed to be in jeopardy are placed on the danger list.
The Committee requested the mission take place as soon as possible so that the results can be considered by the Committee in its next session in the summer of 2010. The United States and Canada will complete a State of Conservation Report by February 1, 2010.