A grizzly bear walks through a backcountry campsite in Montana’s Glacier National Park. (Doug Kelley/The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)

A grizzly bear walks through a backcountry campsite in Montana’s Glacier National Park. (Doug Kelley/The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)

Trump administration halts work on Cascades grizzly plan

The U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly ordered an end to work on a key bear planning document.

DARRINGTON — Plans to help increase the grizzly bear population in the North Cascades ecosystem have been halted.

The U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly ordered that work be stopped on a key planning document — the environmental impact statement for the grizzly restoration project.

North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich announced the order to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee last week, according to The Missoulian.

Work to restore grizzlies in the North Cascades has been planned for decades. Earlier this year, the National Park and U.S. Fish and Wildlife services released a draft plan and environmental impact statement. The document presented possibilities for boosting the grizzly population from the handful that might be living in the North Cascades today to as many as 200 bears in the coming decades. Three proposals call for bringing in bears from elsewhere. A fourth would focus on improving habitat, but would not introduce new bears.

An extended public comment period sparked tens of thousands of responses. Meetings drew hundreds of people, including a large crowd in Darrington. Officials have been reviewing feedback and working on a final document.

The North Cascades cover 9,800 square miles in Washington, including much of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The idea of increasing the grizzly population has received mixed responses locally. There has been backlash from people who live in communities that border the wilderness. A group in Darrington favored restoring habitat but opposed the introduction of new bears, citing safety concerns and potential effects on outdoor industries.

State Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, is pushing for legislation that would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to hold a public hearing and alert elected leaders before any attempt is made to relocate wildlife.

Supporters of grizzly restoration note that the bears shaped the landscape for thousands of years before being pushed to the brink of local extinction.

The nonprofit Conservation Northwest issued a written statement Monday expressing frustration with the order to stop restoration work.

“We are extremely disappointed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration are abandoning North Cascades grizzly bears,” spokesman Chase Gunnell said.

Years of research and outreach, along with public money, have gone into grizzly recovery efforts, he said. That work should be taken seriously by the administration, Gunnell said.

The Draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan and Environmental Impact Statement is online at parkplanning.nps.gov/grizzlydeis.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A worker disassembles a fluidized bed incinerator at the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Edmonds, $26M goes to a cleaner way to get rid of poop

The city will reduce its wastewater carbon footprint by dumping an incinerator and using new technology.

The Voting Commissioners of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released draft Legislative District maps Tuesday. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Early maps of legislative districts endanger some incumbents

Under one redistricting proposal, Mill Creek joins Everett. Under another, Monroe joins Wenatchee.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Granite Falls altercation: Dog killed, man shot in head

A 20-year-old man allegedly shot an intruder, 54, who threatened two people and killed their dog.

Man found dead in Mountlake Terrace homeless camp identified

Oscar Banos Mejia, 40, was discovered in the bushes along the Interurban Trail on Friday afternoon.

Police respond to a crash in which Isaiah Funden, 24, of Marysville, died after his motorcycle collided with a car Monday morning on the Snohomish River Bridge. (Everett Police Department)
Motorcyclist who died in Everett bridge crash identified

The Marysville man, 24, was involved in a collision with a car and ejected into the Snohomish River.

Callie Childers 20210921
Car of slain Marysville woman was set on fire

Her body was found along a remote stretch of U.S. 2, east of Stevens Pass. Her car was found near Snohomish.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read