Crown of the Continent | Waterton Conference | September 2010
Keynote Address: The Natural and Cultural History of the Crown by Jack Nisbet, teacher, naturalist and author
Introduction: Ted Smith, formerly with the Kendall Foundation (Boston)
The keynote address will review and celebrate the Crown of the Continent’s unique and remarkable history – an ecological crossroads and a place where culture and community are deeply embedded in nature.
Crown of the Continent:
(Draft of September 22, 2010)
This document is a work in progress. It is designed to connect people who care about the Crown of the Continent by articulating a set of common values and shared principles. It is voluntary, nonbinding, and does not duplicate or contradict any existing law, policy, or community‐based partnership. (See Appendix 1 for a list of people consulted in preparing this draft.)
During the 2010 conference Remarkable Beyond Borders, please provide input and advice by marking up hard copies and leaving your notes at the registration table. Staff will revise the document and distribute it once again for review and comment. After the next round of revisions, we hope to be in a place where people might “sign” the Statement of Values and Principles (Statement).
While the Statement is by, for, and about the people who care about the Crown, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has asked us to send them a draft of the Statement in reference to the America’s Great Outdoor Initiative. CEQ and other Obama Administration officials were inspired during their trip to Ovando, Montana, in June 2010 and challenged us to create something that knits together the community‐based partnerships with Crown‐wide and larger regional initiatives relevant to the Crown.
The Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent serves as the coordinating body for this effort and will provide ongoing support in the distribution, use, and updating of the Statement (see Appendix 2 for a description of the Roundtable). Once it is complete, the Statement of Values of Principles will be “owned” by all signatories.
The Crown of the Continent (the “Crown”) is an 18 million acre ecosystem (see Appendix 3 for a widely accepted map of the region). The U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament designated Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks, which define the core of the region, in 1932 as the world’s first International Peace Park. The landscape of the Crown contains a diverse, functioning, relatively intact ecosystem; a geographically unique natural area containing the headwaters of three major water systems; habitat for a diverse array and a significant number of native flora and fauna; home for charismatic mega fauna, especially the grizzly bear that is strongly identified with this area; and a natural landscape with breathtaking scenic vistas, wildness, quietude, and dark skies that inspire a connection between people and nature. The Crown is a rare and special place.
Indigenous cultures have inhabited the Crown for thousands of years, and communities of the region have always been connected to the landscape. Timber harvests on state, provincial, private, and federal public lands have long contributed to the region’s economies and to forest health. As the timber industry transitions into specialty products and potential biomass production, long term health and productivity of forested lands is crucial to communities in the Crown. Production agriculture from beef to barley and “farm to market” enterprises represent core economic activities and depend on healthy grasslands. Local food production is tied to a sustainable landscape and the people who live there. One of the biggest economic opportunities for communities around the Crown is tourism, which depends on healthy, accessible lands for recreation and visitation.
The future of the Crown of the Continent is being shaped by over 100 government agencies, non‐government organizations, and community‐based partnerships. These individuals and organizations operate at multiple spatial scales, share a common commitment to the landscape and communities of the region, and often work together through informal partnerships. However, there is no common thread or statement of values and principles that connects these efforts and fosters a regional community defined by a shared landscape.
Purpose of the Statement of Values and Principles
The purpose of the Statement is to create a regional network while sustaining the identity, integrity, and legitimacy of all the actors working to shape the future of the Crown. More specifically, it creates a framework to (1) promote a deeper sense of place and regional identity; (2) foster a common understanding of the people, place, and forces shaping the future of the region; (3) guide future actions to enhance and sustain the natural and cultural assets of this remarkable region; (4) advocate for the interests of the Crown; and (5) assess progress in meeting common values and shared principles. The Statement builds on the history of cooperation among First Nations and Native Americans, Canada, United States, Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana. It recognizes the Crown is the home of the first international peace park and three biosphere reserves, along with other special designations. The Statement is a voluntary, non‐binding “good faith” agreement; it does not replace or duplicate existing laws, agreements, policies, or community‐based partnerships. It provides a foundation for shaping the future of the region through research, education, policy, management, and advocacy. The Statement is a living document; it will be reviewed and revised periodically to ensure that it reflects current values of people interested in the Crown of the Continent.
The following values are derived from existing laws, treaties, agreements, policies, communitybased conservation efforts, and a 2008 meeting of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent. The values are not listed in any order of priority.
Maintain a healthy landscape, including but not limited to water quality, water quantity, and wildlife habitat and corridors.
Respect diverse cultures, beginning with First Nations and Native Americans that identify the Crown as part of their native homeland, and including the ranching, mountain, conservation, arts, and other cultures.
Foster livable communities, including the rural way of life as well as emerging urban centers.
Sustain vibrant economies based on agriculture, small business, tourism, natural resource industries, ranching, and outfitting.
Keep working lands intact to sustain the region’s agricultural base and habitat for fish and wildlife.
Restore and protect public lands and resources.
Sustain and enhance public access for hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor recreation pursuits in wilderness areas and other public lands.
Enable community‐based partnerships to achieve common values and shared principles.
Promote opportunities to learn from and share the lessons of this special environment through education and research.
Facilitate communication, cooperation, and partnerships across all borders, including international, jurisdictional, cultural, and the public and private sectors.
To achieve the common values, signatories embrace and practice the following shared principles.
Individual Rights and Responsibilities – The citizens of the Crown hold a fundamental right to clean water, clean air, and a healthy landscape. This right implies a shared responsibility for the use, management, conservation, and protection of the region’s water and related land and air resources. The ecological integrity of the Crown and the physical health, economic well‐being, and quality of life should be maintained and enhanced for current and future generations.
Ecological Integrity – The Crown functions today as an intact ecosystem with remarkable diversity of life and ecological resilience. As demonstrated by numerous community‐based conservation initiatives in the region, ecological integrity should be sustained, and if necessary restored, through scientific inquiry, community participation, land acquisition, best management practices, and regulation. Every effort should be made to avoid compromising the ecological integrity of the Crown.
Sustainable Communities – In a sustainable community, a fundamental and inextricable linkage exists between economic activity and the goods and services provided by the natural ecosystem. Sustainable economic activity meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It respects the limits imposed by the capacity of the landscape, and promotes long‐term economic viability, protects environmental values, and seeks to provide economic opportunities and quality of life for all people in the Crown.
Institutional Relations – Two federal governments, the State of Montana, two Canadian provinces, numerous regional agencies and local governments, and several Native American authorities/First Nations have some legal authority or responsibility for matters pertaining to the Crown of the Continent. The complexity and sophistication of the “institutional ecosystem” for the Crown’s governance has garnered global recognition. Cooperative relations among these jurisdictions, in partnership with business and industry, citizen organizations and all other regional interests, are needed if the integrity of the landscape is to be achieved and maintained.
Public Information, Education and Participation – Citizen participation is the cornerstone of developing and implementing public policies that promote a clean environment, strong economy, and high quality of life in the Crown of the Continent. Such participation ensures that the needs and concerns of interested individuals are heard, understood, and incorporated into policy and management plans. To participate effectively, citizens must be informed of political, ecological, social, and economic issues in the region. This requires timely, accurate, and accessible information; a forum in which to voice concerns; and a mechanism to become involved in formulating and implementing public policy.
Any individual, organization, community, partnership, or agency that subscribes to the common values and shared principles is invited to be a signatory of the Statement. Signatories aspire to uphold the common values and shared principles in their activities, and prepare a brief statement that describes their commitment to the Statement and actions to be taken to support implementation. These statements will be compiled as an addendum to the Statement and updated periodically to assess progress and guide future efforts. As the community of signatories grows, the Crown of the Continent should become known as “Our Crown.”
The Roundtable is an ongoing forum to bring together people who care about the Crown of the Continent. It is based on the observation that the future of the Crown is being shaped by over 100 government agencies, non‐government organizations, and place‐based partnerships. While these various initiatives operate somewhat independent of each other, the Roundtable provides a unique opportunity to connect people that share common values and a commitment to the region.
Through workshops, conferences, and policy research, the Roundtable provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, build relationships, and explore opportunities to work together ‐‐ to sustain the natural and cultural heritage of this remarkable landscape.
The Roundtable is not an official commission authorized by any government agency; it is more of a network, alliance, and place where “friends of the Crown” can connect and jointly shape the future of this shared landscape.
Participation in the Roundtable is based on self‐interest. People participate for their own benefit and to develop their own work. The Roundtable therefore tends to have fluid membership; people move in and out of the activities of the Roundtable based on how much they personally benefit from participating. As people exchange ideas, learn together, and develop a common sense of purpose, they gradually improve their individual and collective capacity and commitment. It is this capacity and commitment that will sustain the natural and cultural heritage of the Crown.
The Roundtable is co‐convened and staffed by the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the Sonoran Institute (and hopefully people and organizations in Alberta and British Columbia). A broadbased Steering Committee provides input and advice on the activities of the Roundtable.
For more information, go to www.crownroundtable.org