SEDRO WOOLLEY, Wash. – The public is invited to participate in a series of informational open houses regarding restoration of grizzly bears in the North Cascades ecosystem. The meetings are being held by the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as part of the Grizzly Bear Restoration Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the North Cascades ecosystem. This is the first opportunity for public involvement in the EIS. The purpose of the EIS is to determine whether or not the agencies will take an active role in restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem.
The public open houses will be held at these locations and times:
Winthrop March 3, 5-7:30 pm
Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
51 N. Hwy 20
Winthrop, WA 98862
Okanogan March 4, 5-7:30 pm
Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
1331 2nd Ave N
Okanogan, WA 98840
Wenatchee 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
Seattle March 10, 5-7:30 pm
Seattle Pacific University Bertona Classroom 1
103 West Bertona
Seattle, WA 98119
Bellingham 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 athttp://parkplanning.nps.gov/NCEG. 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.
“This is an important phase in the process of assessing environmental impacts,” said NPS Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “Public comment at this stage is critical to ensure that all issues are considered.”
The FWS listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 United States in 1975. The species was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 1980.
“The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan calls on us to fully consider the restoration of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades, and this process will ensure we solicit the public for their input before putting any plan into action,” said FWS Pacific Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “We will continue to work with our partners to make this an open and transparent process.”
The North Cascades ecosystem encompasses 9,800 square miles in the United States and another 3,800 square miles in British Columbia, Canada. The United States portion of the ecosystem includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
A few grizzly bears have recently been sighted in the Canadian part of the ecosystem, but no grizzly bears have been sighted in the United States portion for several years.