Here’s an Olympic moment you probably didn’t hear about. Smack under the zip line, down in Robson Square, the B.C. government announced it would ban mining in B.C.’s Flathead Valley.
Whoa! Stop the presses! This is huge news, hidden in the shadows of gold, silver and bronze news stories. No mining in the Flathead — that’s music to the ears of many, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For three decades, conservationists stubbornly fought to save this Rocky Mountain valley. Why? The Flathead nurses the greatest density of interior grizzly bears in North America. It grows the greatest variety of plants and wildflowers. And it hosts all the native carnivores (meat-eaters with claws). The Flathead is simply a magnet for life, right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
So when the premier announced in the middle of Olympic action in Robson Square, that this “middle” of the Rockies wouldn’t have polluting mines, B.C. won a medal.
It’s a bronze for now. The Flathead still needs a national park in a portion of the valley — that accomplishment would earn B.C. a silver.
The Flathead also needs a wildlife corridor so animals can travel back and forth to Banff — with this the government would earn a gold.
Own the podium, Premier Gordon Campbell. We’d love to present you with a lovely bouquet of Flathead wildflowers.
Kai Chan is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC; firstname.lastname@example.org.