[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 9 (Friday, January 13, 2017)]
[Pages 4416-4417]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00616]



Fish and Wildlife Service

National Park Service


Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Grizzly Bear Restoration 
Plan, North Cascades Ecosystem, Washington

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability for public comment.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Park 
Service (NPS) announce the availability of the Grizzly Bear Restoration 
Plan (plan)/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in the North 
Cascades Ecosystem (NCE), Washington. The plan/DEIS evaluates the 
impacts of a range of alternatives for restoring the grizzly bear to 
the United States (U.S.) portion of the NCE, a portion of its 
historical range.

DATES: All written comments on the plan/DEIS must be postmarked or 
submitted no later than March 14, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please contact Denise Shultz, Public 
Information Officer, North Cascades National Park Service Complex at 
360-854-7302, or Ann Froschauer, Public Affairs Supervisor, FWS 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office at 360-753-4370. Information will 
be available for public review online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grizzlydeis; in the Office of the Superintendent, 810 State Route 20, 
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284 (360-854-7200, telephone); and in the 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Dr. SE., Suite 102, 
Lacey, WA 98503 (360-753-9440).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this plan/DEIS is to 
determine how to restore the grizzly bear to the NCE, a portion of its 
historical range. Action is needed at this time to:
     Avoid the permanent loss of grizzly bears in the NCE;
     Contribute to the restoration of biodiversity of the 
ecosystem for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future 
generations of people;
     Enhance the probability of long-term survival of grizzly 
bears in the NCE and thereby contribute to overall grizzly bear 
recovery; and
     Support the recovery of the grizzly bear to the point 
where it can be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife.
    This plan/DEIS evaluates the impacts of the no-action alternative 

[[Page 4417]]

A) and three action alternatives (Alternatives B, C, and D).
    Alternative A would continue existing management practices and 
assume no new management actions would be implemented beyond those 
available at the outset of the grizzly bear restoration planning 
process. Under Alternative A, grizzly bears would not be translocated 
into the NCE.
    The action alternatives include capturing grizzly bears from 
outside the NCE and releasing them into the NCE for a period of time 
that is dependent on the particular alternative. The lead agencies 
would focus on translocating grizzly bears from areas that are 
ecologically similar to potential release sites. This may include 
grizzly bears from British Columbia, Canada, or the Northern 
Continental Divide ecosystem. All of the action alternatives include 
the replacement of translocated bears in the NCE which are lost from 
the population due to mortality or emigration during the period of 
initial releases.
    The option to designate the NCE grizzly bear population as an 
experimental population under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species 
Act could be applied to any of the action alternatives. The DEIS will 
assess the potential impacts associated with designating, or not 
designating, an experimental population under each action alternative; 
therefore, the DEIS will serve as our National Environmental Policy Act 
analysis for the proposed restoration effort and any 10(j) experimental 
population rule.
    Alternative B would involve an initial release of up to 10 grizzly 
bears followed by a period of monitoring in which additional releases 
would not occur. The alternative would then either repeat the initial 
release or default to alternative C as described below. At the 
conclusion of the initial release, there would be a period of adaptive 
management where additional bears could be released based on a number 
of factors including human-caused sources of mortality, genetic 
limitations, population trends, and the adjustment of the sex ratio.
    Alternative C would involve the yearly release of up to 5 grizzly 
bears for a 5 to 10-year period to achieve an initial population of 25 
grizzly bears. At the conclusion of these releases, there would be an 
adaptive management period where additional grizzly bears could be 
released based on a number of factors including human-caused sources of 
mortality, genetic limitations, population trends, and the adjustment 
of the sex ratio.
    Alternative D would involve the yearly release of the maximum 
number of grizzly bears available for capture (anticipated to be 5 to 7 
bears) until the minimum population estimate in the NCE reaches 200 
grizzly bears.
    The U.S. Forest Service and the Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife are cooperating agencies on this plan/DEIS.
    Public Participation: After the Environmental Protection Agency 
Notice of Availability is published, the FWS and NPS will schedule 
public meetings to be held during the comment period throughout the 
NCE. Dates, times, and locations of these meetings will be announced in 
press releases and on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment 
Web site for the plan/DEIS at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grizzlydeis.
    How to Comment: You are encouraged to comment on the plan/DEIS 
online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grizzlydeis. You may also mail or 
hand-deliver your comments to the Superintendent, North Cascades 
National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 
98284. Written comments will also be accepted during scheduled public 
meetings discussed above. Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, 
or by any method other than those specified above. Bulk comments in any 
format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not 
be accepted. Before including your address, phone number, email 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.

    Dated: December 13, 2016.
Jon Raby,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific Region, Fish and Wildlife Service.
    Dated: December 19, 2016.
Laura E. Joss,
Regional Director, Pacific West Region, National Park Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-00616 Filed 1-12-17; 8:45 am]