Strong support for grizzly bears

Strong support for grizzly bears

ConservationNWAdmin / Jul 20, 2015 / Grizzly Bears, Restoring Wildlife

Of those who submitted comments in support of or opposition to grizzly bear restoration, supporters outweighed opponents by over 5 to 1! 

Planning for grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades Recovery Zone is finally underway. After initiating the public process in February 2015, government agencies recently completed the public scoping phase of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process that will guide restoration efforts.

Of those who submitted comments in support of or opposition to grizzly bear restoration, supporters outweighed opponents by over 5 to 1!

This first phase included a 30-day public comment period and six public meetings in communities east and west of the North Cascades Ecosystem. Over 500 meeting attendees asked questions, talked with agency staff from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and submitted handwritten comments.

In June, the federal agencies released a summary report of the approximately 3,000 comments submitted during the scoping period. We are happy to say that of those who submitted comments in support of or opposition to grizzly bear restoration, supporters outweighed opponents by over 5 to 1! 

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There were some valid concerns regarding bear recovery. And many commenters expressed interest in outreach and education on how folks in other states successfully coexist with grizzly bears on the trail, in the woods, and on the range. Conservation Northwest will help with that as the agencies continue their official EIS.

Going forward, the comments will guide the development of a Draft EIS (DEIS) that will be completed in the summer of 2016, followed by another public comment period. A final EIS will then be issued and a Record of Decision is expected in mid-2017. Conservation Northwest and our allies are encouraged not only that this historic process is finally underway, but also that we are already seeing strong public support for bear restoration.

Previous polls have also shown strong support for North Cascades grizzly bear recovery.

But there’s still much work to be done, and some interests are lining up in obstinate opposition to recovering this native species. It is imperative that, with the support of our conservation community and environmental advocates across the region, we keep showing widespread support for restoring grizzly bears to their rightful place in the North Cascades, particularly during the next public comment period planned for late 2016. 

The North Cascades Ecosystem, anchored by North Cascades National Park, contains one of the largest areas of wild and protected habitat in the Lower 48. But it’s missing an important piece of the ecosystem—the grizzly bear.

For decades we’ve waited on recovery plans while a vital and exciting piece of our wildlife heritage has been all but wiped out—relegated to old stories and fuzzy memories. Guided by community involvement and the best available science, it’s time to restore grizzly bears and pass on a healthier, more vibrant North Cascades to our children.

Visit our North Cascades grizzly bear restoration webpage for more information on restoring a healthy population of this vital Northwest native.