Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Department or School/College

School of Journalism

Committee Chair

Dennis Swibold

Commitee Members

Jule Banville Len Broberg


British Columbia Flathead Valley


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies


British Columbia’s Flathead Valley has been part of a century-old conversation about expanding Waterton Glacier National Park. The area is home to the highest density of non-coastal grizzlies of anywhere in North America. This valley boasts the highest plant diversity in all of Canada. There is no human population centers dwelling in this valley, but many stakeholders have interests there, including logging companies like CANFOR and Jemi Fibre, outfitters and hunting guides, ATV or off road vehicle groups, environmentalists, conservationists, First Nations people, British Columbia’s provincial government and the Canadian government. The First Nations group is the Ktunaxa and they are the areas oldest human inhabitants. They have used this area for 11,000 years.

The conversation may be riper for a solution than it has ever been. The Ktunaxa are currently settling their land claims with British Columbia’s provincial government. Canada has biodiversity targets to protect 17 percent of their landscape by 2020. Currently, they are at 10 percent. Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative, a Canadian and U.S. nonprofit group, is spearheading the campaign, hoping to create a continent-sized wildlife corridor from the Yellowstone River to the Yukon River. This valley is a critical piece of the puzzle. This corridor would allow genetic diversity to flow and connect to other protected areas and foster species survivability. Bill Bennett, British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, is retiring in May 2017. Polls are showing more and more people of southeastern British Columbia are in favor of protecting this valley. Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday this year.

My long-form piece of journalism focuses on this area, the people who use it and the obstacles that have blocked the expansion of Waterton Park but also explains why the timing may be right for a solution that protects both the area’s biodiversity and the needs of its human residents.

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© Copyright 2017 Benjamin A. Polley