Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke traveled to Sedro-Woolley, Washington, where he announced support of Grizzly Bear Restoration efforts in North Cascades National Park and the surrounding ecosystem. The Secretary emphasized the cultural and spiritual importance of grizzly bears in tribal communities, the contributions grizzly bears make to the biodiversity of the ecosystem, and the ecological devastation that the permanent loss of grizzly bears would cause if nothing is done.
“Restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades ecosystem is the American conservation ethic come to life,” said Secretary Zinke. “We are managing the land and the wildlife according to the best science and best practices. The loss of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades would disturb the ecosystem and rob the region of an icon. We are moving forward with plans to restore the bear to the North Cascades, continuing our commitment to conservation and living up to our responsibility as the premier stewards of our public land.”
The National Park Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and other cooperating agencies developed a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and conducted numerous public meetings. Over 126,000 comments and correspondence were received on the alternatives. The comments will be analyzed and addressed to be included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is tentatively scheduled for release in late summer of 2018.
Grizzly bears have been a priority issue for the Cascadia Partner Forum since our inception. Last year, our partner forum commissioned a vulnerability assessment for our North Cascades ecosystem grizzly bears that was completed by Washington Conservation Science Institute and US Fish and Wildlife Service with contributions and reviews by local species experts. The vulnerability assessment identified the importance of a strategy to restore the population in the North Cascades along with improving connectivity and other factors to increase resilience to change, click here to read the vulnerability assessment.