Potential New Neighbor for North Cascade Producers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement reacting to an announcement from the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service seeking public comment on a proposed rule under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act related to the potential introduction of grizzly bears in the North Cascades.
“The National Parks Service and Fish and Wildlife Service should end this process immediately by rescinding the draft EIS and proposed 10(j) rule. The introduction of grizzlies into the North Cascades would be devastating for our North Central Washington communities,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Time and again, our communities have spoken to express staunch opposition to the introduction of these apex predators, which would be detrimental to our families, wildlife, and livestock alike. The introduction of grizzlies has also been deemed illegal by the Washington state legislature since 1995. I’m beyond disappointed that the Biden Administration is ignoring our concerns by moving forward with the introduction while putting on the façade of seeking more public input after their decision has clearly been made. It’s past time for the Biden Administration to listen to my constituents’ voices, who overwhelmingly oppose this decision, instead of forcing bad policy on us from D.C. bureaucrats and environmental activists in California.”
- The North Cascades Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement was first proposed by the Obama Administration. Central Washington communities surrounding the North Cascades National Park were not provided an adequate opportunity to give their input on the proposal.
- In March 2017, Rep. Newhouse wrote to North Cascades National Park Service Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich to express opposition to the plan, citing an inadequate level of local community input and encouraging federal agencies to defer to state and local authorities on grizzly bear management efforts.
- On April 12, 2018, Rep. Newhouse wrote a letter to former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, expressing his deep concern regarding the then-Secretary’s support for the proposal.
- On June 6, 2018, the House Appropriations Committee approved Rep. Newhouse’s amendment to the FY19 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would deny funding to the U.S. Department of Interior to be used for the transport of grizzly bears in the North Cascades until local communities had the chance to adequately submit their public comments. The amendment was included in the passage of the final FY19 Interior Appropriations language.
- On July 19, 2018, the full House of Representatives approved legislation containing Rep. Newhouse’s amendment to deny funding used for the transport of grizzly bears in the North Cascades.
- In October 2019, hundreds of North Central Washington residents attended a public listening session – requested by Rep. Newhouse – in Okanogan, Washington, where officials from the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife listened to local concerns on the proposal to introduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem.
- U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish & Wildlife Rob Wallace was at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex as many of the more than 600 North Central Washington residents provided up to two minutes of oral comment on the record. As reported by Capital Press, 50 people spoke in opposition to grizzly bear introduction, and 12 people spoke in support.
- On July 7, 2020, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt visited North Central Washington, where he announced after following the federal rulemaking process, reviewing hundreds of local public comments, and hosting a public comment listening session in Okanogan County last year, DOI concluded that grizzly bears will not be introduced into the North Cascades Ecosystem.
- On November 10, 2022, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced initiation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process with four virtual meetings to evaluate options for restoring and managing grizzly bears in the North Cascades of Washington.
- Over 6,200 comments were received on the draft EIS, with the vast majority coming from outside of Washington state.
People are encouraged to comment on the proposal here after September 29th, 2023.