Statement on Secretary Zinke’s announcement regarding North Cascades grizzly bear restoration
Conservation Northwest / Mar 23, 2018 / Grizzly Bears, North Cascades, Restoring Wildlife
Read more grizzly restoration coverage from the Associated Press, Seattle P.I., Skagit Valley Herald and The Seattle Times.
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was at North Cascades National Park Complex headquarters making remarks on grizzly bear restoration, including that the ongoing North Cascades grizzly bear restoration Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would continue and a Record of Decision would be reached by the end of 2018.
In response to these announcements, Conservation Northwest issued the following statement:
“We thank Secretary Zinke for his visit and the encouraging words of support for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades. We have never lost hope that the restoration of this American wildlife icon would proceed because the people of Washington have repeatedly demonstrated their overwhelming support for it,” said Joe Scott, International Programs Director and grizzly bear lead for Conservation Northwest.
“People recognize that we’ve forced the grizzly into a small fraction of its former range in four states, including Washington, and that we have a rare opportunity to right that wrong in some small way—and to complete one of the missing chapters of the grizzly bear recovery story,” says Scott.
“With 10,000 square miles of mostly rugged backcountry, the North Cascades Ecosystem is big and wild enough to sustain a small population of grizzly bears alongside people and local communities. Government wildlife officials have taken great care to guide this process with good science, community involvement and accurate, well-presented information. We expect that approach to continue as long as the goal is grizzly bear recovery. It will take a lifetime to succeed, but inaction would guarantee failing this piece of our Northwest natural heritage.”
Washingtonians largely agree that preventing the extirpation of this iconic native species is important for our natural and cultural heritage. More than 127,000 public comments were submitted on a draft EIS in early 2017, the vast majority of them supportive of restoration. During a 2015 public comment period and in recent independent polling of Washington residents, more than 80 percent of respondents across geographic and partisan lines agreed that grizzly bears are important, and should be restored in the wilderness of the North Cascades where quality habitat remains.
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For more than two decades, Conservation Northwest has been the leading citizen organization advocating for grizzly recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem, including collaborating with local communities, livestock producers and outdoor enthusiasts regarding ways to coexist with these iconic animals.
The organization, founded in Bellingham and now headquartered in Seattle, represents 4,000 dues-paying members in Washington, British Columbia and beyond. With staff working on-the-ground in and around the North Cascades, Conservation Northwest is committed to restoring a healthy grizzly bear population in the North Cascades through science and community involvement because it will help keep the Northwest a natural, wild and sustainable place in which to live, work and play.
To learn more about the plight of the North Cascades grizzly bear, including videos about how restoring this bear population would work, please visit www.conservationnw.org/north-cascades-grizzly or www.northcascadesgrizzly.org.