Visit the official National Park Service website regarding the 2023 North Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.
Restart of Process
North Cascades National Park and the US Fish and Wildlife Service decided to move forward with a process to determine how to restore grizzly bears to the area. In late 2022, agencies announced their decision and encouraged the public to comment on the announcement. The agencies outlined the purpose and need of grizzly restoration, seeking to:
– Avoid permanent loss of grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE)
– Contribute to the restoration of biodiversity of the ecosystem for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
– Enhance the probability of long-term survival and conservation of grizzly bears within the NCE and contribute to grizzly bear recovery nationally.
– Support the recovery of the grizzly bear so it may be removed from the Endangered Species List
The comment period concluded on December 14th, 2022. Officials are now reviewing these comments and preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to study the ways they could recover grizzly bears, what happens if they take no action, and the impacts of decisions they’re considering.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
In the Summer of 2023, the federal agencies plan to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that will respond to public comments and consider a full range of options for how they will proceed. Agencies are expected to release a “preferred alternative,” a course of action they believe will give them the best opportunity to meet the goals of the project. When the DEIS is released, the public will likely have between 30 and 60 days to respond. The agencies will also hold public meetings where people can ask questions and weigh in on the proposals.
Prepare final plan
After collecting public comments on the DEIS, agencies will analyze comments and create a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS will select an existing plan of action, or reconfigure various plans to respond to public comments and suggestions. This is the final step before releasing a Record of Decision. No public comment period is expected with the release of the FEIS, but the public can continue to work with the Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly to encourage swift implementation of any plan that supports grizzly recovery.
Record of Decision
The National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service will release their final decision, determining how they may move forward to accomplish the purpose and need outlined for this process. If the agencies decide to take action, they will need to secure the funding and tools to move grizzly bears into the ecosystem. Agencies will also need to monitor their progress, respond to management concerns, and adapt to challenges along the way. Agencies will also need to continue to take actions to reduce human-bear conflict by educating the public about recreating in bear country, installing food and waste storage in campgrounds and recreation sites, and responding to any conflict situations that may arise.