Take action for North Cascades grizzly bears
Conservation Northwest / Aug 14, 2019 / Action Alert, Grizzly Bears
WILD NW #294: Your comments are needed once again to support the recovery of these disappearing icons.
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently reopened the public comment period on the Draft North Cascades Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for 90 days, through October 24, 2019.
This plan is critical under the Endangered Species Act for restoring a grizzly bear population in the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone, wildlands anchored by North Cascades National Park and several designated Wilderness Areas, including the Pasayten, Stephen Mather and Mount Baker Wilderness.
Encompassing approximately 9,800 square miles, this is one of the largest blocks of public land remaining in the lower 48 states. It’s the only area in the contiguous U.S. outside the greater Rocky Mountains where grizzlies still roam, and the only federally-designated Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone on the West Coast.
The last public input period on the grizzly restoration DEIS garnered more than 120,000 comments, the vast majority supportive of grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades.
All comments received during the public comment period that was open from January to April 2017 will still be considered. But given this latest comment period, we need grizzly bear supporters to speak up and submit comments once more!
Folks can view the Draft EIS online here, and submit online comments through the Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=77025
You may also mail or hand-deliver your comments to: Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.
Scroll down for suggested comments. We need YOU to speak up for Alternative C and a balanced approach to grizzly bear restoration!
Federal agencies have proposed four alternative approaches for grizzly bear restoration, including one “No Action” and three action alternatives with a range of options for translocating a number of bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem.
We support Alternative C because we recognize that wildlife agencies must balance grizzly bear biology, ecological function of wildlands and social acceptance of grizzly bear recovery in their decision-making.
In brief, Alternative C would allow wildlife professionals to move up to five grizzly bears per year into the North Cascades for five to seven years, or until a reproducing population of 25 bears is established and can slowly grow naturally.
Alternative C should effectively realize the objectives of the grizzly bear restoration effort and the DEIS, with the stipulation that future bear transplants are tied more explicitly to maintaining a desired annual population growth rate. Biologists estimate that it could take up to a century to fully recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem. Grizzly bears reproduce very slowly and cub survival rates can be low.
Opponents of grizzly bear restoration will surely make their voices heard during this final comment period. Those of you who envision a place for the grizzly in our wild North Cascades need to speak up, too!
Feel free to copy and paste our suggested comments, below, into the National Park Service comment form. Please customize your comments if you can! Example testimonials are available here.
The agencies will not accept comments by email at this time.
I am writing to express my strong support for grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades. Grizzly bears once thrived in the North Cascades and are vital to maintaining a complete, ecologically-functional ecosystem. Grizzly bears enhance the backcountry experience and are an important part of our Northwest natural heritage, one that’s on the brink of disappearing.
Specifically, I support Alternative C: Incremental Restoration. Alternative C strikes a sound balance to meet the mutual goals of grizzly bear restoration and the needs of people. I believe grizzly bears will benefit our region’s ecosystems and economies alike, and preserve true wildness for future generations to cherish and enjoy.
Grizzly bear range in the contiguous U.S. has been reduced by 98 percent. Restoring grizzly bears to the Cascades will help to maintain the animal’s distribution on the West Coast (the only Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone outside of the Rocky Mountains). We also know that people and grizzly bears coexist in other areas where the bears are much more abundant, and local economies are supported by tourism, backcountry recreation and ranching to name a few.
Grizzly bears won’t recover on their own because the North Cascades is isolated from larger, more well-connected grizzly bear populations in the U.S. and Canada. In the decades since the grizzly was protected by the Endangered Species Act, grizzlies have not recovered in the North Cascades. Thus, the “No Action” alternative in the DEIS will not suffice to achieve grizzly bear recovery in the Cascades nor will it satisfy the objectives of the EIS process, the responsibilities of federal agencies under the ESA or the national strategy for recovering grizzly bears in the identified Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones.
During your scoping period, the 2017 DEIS comment period, and in recent public polling, broad support has been documented for grizzly bear restoration. Please do the right thing and bring back this native species through the strategy laid out in Alternative C. Alternative C strikes an acceptable balance between the biological and the social sciences. Grizzly bear restoration through Alternative C will restore an important piece of our ecosystem, regional culture and natural heritage.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION TODAY!