Public Comment Period Opens for Restoring Grizzlies to the North Cascades
Conservation Northwest / Sep 29, 2023 / Grizzly Bears
The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released a draft plan to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE), a region they once roamed for thousands of years. The plan is open for public comment until November 13, 2023.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, CONTACT ANDREA@CONSERVATIONNW.ORG OR (510) 295-3579.
Conservation Northwest has been advocating for grizzly restoration in their traditional home for decades and we praise the Biden administration for restarting this process. The resumption of the draft plan and environmental impact statement is a significant step in bringing grizzly bears back to a productive and wild ecosystem spanning Washington and British Columbia.
Joe Scott, International Programs Director for Conservation Northwest, said, “The grizzly bear is still the consummate North American wildlife icon. The grizzly has immeasurable ecological and cultural value for our ecosystems and communities. We have a unique opportunity and obligation in the PNW to co-author a significant conservation success story – to restore the grizzly to a small but important part of its traditional home.”
The National Park Service has identified the North Cascades as one of North America’s premier intact ecosystems — but it is incomplete without grizzly bears. This is the second attempt by the agencies to restore grizzlies to the North Cascades after a 2015 process was halted by the Trump administration in 2020. At the time, more than 159,000 people wrote comments supporting the reintroduction of grizzlies.
The NCE is one of two grizzly recovery areas without an established population of bears – and natural bear migration is unlikely to repopulate it. Instead, wildlife biologists, based on decades of thorough research, suggest safely relocating existing bears into the North Cascades. Biologists have not been able to find evidence of a reproducing population in the North Cascades in more than 30 years and chances are near zero that grizzlies will reestablish themselves without human assistance.
The two agencies are proposing a 45-day comment period, during which they will gather public input toward developing a Final EIS and strategy for restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades. Public comments for the “Draft EIS” and the “Proposed 10(j)” rule can be submitted here.
Restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem is a crucial step in preserving the region’s ecological and cultural heritage. We encourage people to submit their comments on the draft plan to ensure the successful reintroduction of these iconic animals.
We also want to compliment the US National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service for their diligence and professionalism toward completing a 30-year grizzly bear recovery effort and going the extra mile to engage, listen, and include the public in the planning process.