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Open houses for grizzly recovery in the Cascades

Posted by: Robert Long, Senior Conservation Fellow

Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem, an area of 9,800 square miles comprising large swaths of public land and wilderness, is one of only two regions in the contiguous United States—the other being the Northern Rockies—capable of supporting all of the larger carnivore species native to the United States. Most of these species, including black bears, cougars, and now gray wolves and wolverines, already occur in or are recolonizing their former habitats. Now, the American public will get the opportunity to support the recovery of grizzly bears—an iconic symbol of wildness—in the North Cascades.

Photo courtesy of Western Wildlife Outreach.

Grizzly bear populations once stretched from the tundra of northern Canada down through the Pacific Northwest and into California and even Mexico. Because of excessive hunting and trapping during the 1800s and early 1900s, however, grizzlies are now gone from the southern Pacific states, and very few—-possibly a handful or fewer—now call Washington’s North Cascades their home. The grizzly bear has been listed federally under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species in the lower 48 United States since 1975, and was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 1980.

Grizzly bear eating salmon at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo.

Grizzlies sit at the top of the food chain, and their behaviors—including digging large areas in search of plants and small mammals, and dispersing salmon carcasses and the nutrients within throughout the forest adjacent to streams and rivers— have important effects on the entire animal and plant community to which they belong. Grizzly bears still inhabit large parts of Alaska and Canada, and encounters between humans and grizzlies are exceedingly rare.

Photo courtesy of Western Wildlife Outreach.

We hope you will take this unique opportunity to participate in this important recovery planning process. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are overseeing this effort, and the first step is to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) that evaluates the various options for recovering grizzlies, and to determine whether or not the agencies will take an active role in restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem. The EIS process is designed to be a transparent one, and the first opportunity for public involvement will consist of a series of open houses conducted across the northern part of the state.

The public open houses will be held at these locations and times:

March 3, 5-7:30 pm
Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
51 N. Hwy 20
Winthrop, WA 98862

March 4, 5-7:30 pm
Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
1331 2nd Ave. N
Okanogan, WA 98840

March 5, 6-8:30 pm
Chelan County PUD Auditorium
327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Cle Elum 
March 9, 5-7:30 pm
Putnam Centennial Center Meeting Room
719 East 3rd Street
Cle Elum, WA 98922

March 10, 5-7:30 pm
Seattle Pacific University Bertona Classroom 1
103 West Bertona
Seattle, WA 98119

March 11, 5-7:30 pm
Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room
210 Central Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98227

In addition to these open houses, the public is invited to submit written comments at Comments may also be submitted through March 26, 2015, via regular mail or hand delivery at: Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.

For more information on grizzly bear recovery, visit or


Unknown said…
Ask the bear managers in Montana how much time, effort, and money they spend trapping grizzlies out of orchards. And there are only a few tiny isolated orchards in Montana. Wait till transplanted grizzlies discover orchards on the east front of the Cascades. I want to have a few grizzlies around as much as anyone, but this is going to be a management nightmare. If you think every orchard in central Washington is going to install electric fences, you are in LaLa Land. And we haven't even started talking about electric fences for every chicken coop in the Cascades.