The Province of British Columbia has signed an agreement with the State of Montana in the US to ban mining and drilling in the Flathead River Basin along the US-Canadian border, north of Glacier National Park.

The deal stops ongoing exploration work and prohibits future development of coal, oil and gas in the Flathead Valley, just upstream from Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park, a UN-designated World Heritage site.

Concern has been growing recently among environmentalists worried about the impact mining and drilling could have on wildlife and natural resources in the region.

Proposals for gas drilling, gold exploration and coal mining in the region have been resting on this decision which, according to BC Premier Gordon Campbell, will ensure the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin are sustained in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses to maintain the healthy eco-system that exists today.

Efforts to stop mining in the region go back to the 1980s, when a US-Canada joint commission rejected an open pit coal mine in the valley because of potential environmental damage.