Responding to Equivocal Euphemisms

The Mistaken Mission to Import Grizzly Bears into the North Cascades

(Don’t worry, there won’t be any problems.)


The following are thoughts concerning the importation of grizzlies into the North Cascades.


  1. Access to the records of the four virtual scoping meetings should be available to the public for review before the public response period is closed. To the best of my knowledge, the scoping meeting transcripts and videos are not available for public review. This seems highly unusual. Do the agencies involved in conducting the four scoping sessions have a legal responsibility to maintain scoping materials for public review? Does the decision to not maintain records of the scoping meetings expand or limit distribution of scoping material to a broader public? How are those interested in reviewing the four scoping meetings able to thoughtfully compare and contrast questions raised at each meeting without access to transcripts of the four virtual scoping meetings? They can’t.
  2. Washington State Law: In 1995, Washington lawmakers mandated by law that grizzly bears “shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state.” Please specifically address, how the NCNP and U.S F&W services justify continued action that would seem to contradict WA State law?

RCW 77.12.035

“Protection of grizzly bears—Limitation on transplantation or introduction—Negotiations with federal and state agencies.”

“The commission shall protect grizzly bears and develop management programs on publicly owned lands that will encourage the natural regeneration of grizzly bears in areas with suitable habitat. Grizzly bears shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state. Only grizzly bears that are native to Washington State may be utilized by the department for management programs. The department is directed to fully participate in all discussions and negotiations with federal and state agencies relating to grizzly bear management and shall fully communicate, support, and implement the policies of this section.”

Have the NPS and FWS fully participated in all discussions and negotiations with federal and state agencies relating to grizzly bear management concerning the importation of grizzlies into the North Cascades? If so, please provide specific documentation of these discussions and negotiations. If not, why not?


  1. 10(j) management: Scoping material states – The process will include assessing alternatives to include a 10(j) experimental population designation, which provides land managers with additional options for managing grizzly bears. If adopted, the 10(j) designation would add more certainty, safety, and control for the region.” The general public needs far more information concerning options concerning 10(j) options for “certainty, safety, and control.” Do those responding to the scoping materials have any examples of 10(j) management options for grizzlies used in other areas of the nation?” The NPS provides plenty of information concerning the positive value of importing grizzlies but nothing concerning potential 10(j) management options. It’s like being told, “You WILL be living with grizzlies! Now, how do you want to do it?” The NPS and FWS must provide more information concerning the parameters of 10(j) management options if they hope to receive thoughtful input.
  2. An additional alternative suggestion: If 10(j) management options are valuable for grizzly management, a “No Action” alternative should be developed that includes 10(j) management guidelines to be activated IF grizzlies naturally migrate into the North Cascades Complex.
  3. Public Access: Those tuning into the virtual scoping meetings heard plenty of specifics concerning the value of grizzly importation but very few specifics, if any, concerning the value of, or effects upon, public recreation in the North Cascades. A friend wrote recently, “We visited Glacier Park in the 1980s where many hiking trails were closed because of grizzly activity.  Some women campers had been recently killed in their tent by a grizzly.  A National Park ranger confessed that the grizzlies had been out of control.” Specifically, how does the scoping document or virtual meetings reflect an evaluation of grizzly importation on the potential impact on visitor use of trails and campgrounds throughout this recreational complex? If the scoping document hasn’t thoroughly addressed visitor use concerns, how does the NPS/FWS intend to evaluate this legislatively mandated goal?
  4. Public Access continued: All management decisions should be founded upon enabling legislation that defines the North Cascades Complex as a “…vast recreational ” Did the NPS/FWS scoping document or the virtual meetings specifically reference public recreation and visitation in light of PL 90-544 and its legislative history (Senate Report 700 and House Report 1870) and the 1984 Wilderness Act? We know that Governor Dan Evans, co-sponsor of the Wilderness Act, testified :“”What the bill would not do is to keep the park visitor shut out of the park. All the existing transportation and development corridors would be excluded from wilderness designation…  I believe the parks are there to provide recreation, as well as the preservation of the natural ecosystem.” Do the scoping documents reflect this recreation priority? Specifically, how does the scoping document or virtual meetings reflect an evaluation of grizzly importation on the potential impact on visitor use of trails and campgrounds throughout this recreational complex? It would seem the scoping documents and meetings should have included considerable reference and discussion concerning the effects of the introduction of grizzlies into the North Cascades. Again, all management decisions should be founded upon legislation that defines the North Cascades Complex as a “…vast recreational complex.”
  5. More public access questions: If the scoping document hasn’t thoroughly introduced visitor use concerns, how do the NPS/FWS intend to evaluate this legislatively mandated goal? The NPS and FWS should include an Itemized list of trail and campground closures in all Park areas where grizzly bears are located. Additionally, the NPS should provide an itemized list of trail and campground closures in the North Cascades Complex due to black bear activity. Additionally, knowing that the NPs has been challenged concerning the a lack of minorities participating in the National Park experience, how does the NPS and FWS plan to gauge effects of grizzly importation upon minority visitation into the North Cascades Complex?


  1. Public Safety: Park managers understand that significant public concern exists concerning public safety in areas of grizzly activity and publish a Bear Safety page on their website. ( This webpage provides a list of actions to take when in the vicinity of black or grizzly bears. Reading this page offers little comfort when considering the goal of a grizzly population of up to 200 bears in addition to the already sizable black bear population in the complex. During the virtual meeting I attended, a question was asked concerning grizzlies and hiker/camper/visitor safety. The wildlife expert spoke about how we already live in an area that is dangerous. “Cougars, black bears, wolves, and other predatory wildlife species are already here.” Did this statement assuage public safety concerns? I think not. We were also told that there will be extensive educational outreach to inform the public how to avoid encountering grizzlies in the first place and, secondly, just how you should react if charged by these huge clawed, apex predators rushing you with Olympic sprinter speed because YOU surprised them. One suggestion was that hikers should make noise on the trail to let the grizzly know a human is in the area. Making noise on the trail in a wilderness is not exactly why people hike in the wilderness in the first place. Maybe bells work. Maybe not. We were told bear spray could be helpful – but don’t spray into the wind should a charging bear attack. The bear spray will just cause you a great deal of irritation and blind you before the grizzly rips into you. I guess the hikers could move (or ask the grizzly to move) into a position where the bear spray will be blown effectively towards Mr. or Mrs. Grizzly. Finally, we were assured that no law-breaking bears – those bears with criminal history – would be imported to the area. All in all, when it came to a discussion of public safety, participants were treated to a feast of equivocal euphemisms. In the future, an itemize list of all grizzly attacks on humans or livestock in or around Park Service administered areas is necessary if public safety issues are to be addressed. Also, an evaluation of the effects of an eventual population of 200 resident grizzlies will have upon a burgeoning number of PCT hikers. Will the presence of 200 grizzlies add or detract from the nation’s populace who wish to hike the PCT?
  2. Historical generalizations concerning the history of the North Cascades being suitable habitat for a significant number of grizzlies – A friend wrote, “WHAT and WHERE is the historic documentation that supports the view huge numbers of Grizzly Bears were hunted-out of the North Central part of WA-State. Please present this information at any public meetings and in your EIS documentation. If historical material is found that counters this premise, the documentation the final EIS presents should be considered bogus and presented as something to bamboozle Stehekin residents and those who live in the affected regions in order to please those who live elsewhere that like the idea of Grizzly Bears in the NCNP. Additionally, it will certainly spell the death-knell for Stehekin property owners hope of re-opening the road to Cottonwood Campground!
  3. Stehekin’s Upper Valley Road: How does the scoping document address an eventual population of 200 grizzlies as it pertains to the reopening of the Upper Stehekin Valley Road to improve visitor access to campgrounds and trails above Tumwater Campground?
  4. Economic Impacts: Without a doubt an eventual population of 200 grizzlies will have an economic impact upon Stehekin Valley businesses, as well as, businesses of communities surrounding the North Cascade Complex. Visitors to Yellowstone may well find the presence of grizzlies to have a positive impact upon their visitor experience and local businesses will be the beneficiaries of such visitation, however, Yellowstone visitors most often view grizzlies from a road and can retreat to the safety of their automobiles should there be a grizzly confrontation. Hikers and campers in the North Cascades will have no benefit of a motor vehicle safety pod on the narrow trails of the North Cascades Complex should there be a grizzly attack. The 2017 EIS contained the following statement concerning the effects of grizzlies in the North Cascades: “As grizzly bears increase in number over time and begin to use habitat over a larger area of the NCE, the potential for humans to encounter them would exist over a greater geographical range, which could provide benefits for those visitors hoping to experience grizzly bears in the natural environment, while dissuading some other visitors from recreating in the NCE.” This statement is nothing other than an insipid bit of verbiage posing as reasoned analysis. This EIS evaluation of the impact of grizzlies on visitor use is virtually useless. Stehekin’s economic vitality and the ability to serve the visiting public will be impacted if an eventual 200 grizzlies migrate throughout in the North Cascades. The effects upon Stehekin’s Economics are highly localized and no generalized platitudes should be considered as applicable to this unique area. The development of an eventual EIS must include meetings with Stehekin business owners and those living in communities bordering the North Cascades Complex to gauge the potential economic impact upon these businesses.
  5. The effects of future wildfires: NPS managers are well aware of the danger of wildfires erupting in the North Cascade Complex. Wildfires will impact grizzly habitat. The greater size of inevitable wildfires, the greater impact upon wildlife habitat including food resources. Specifically, what are fire management guidelines for wilderness areas? Will the NPS call in firefighting resources to protect grizzly habitat? What will be the predicted outcome of wildfires be on grizzly migration? Likely, this is a difficult question to evaluate. We can hope wildfires are small whether grizzlies are in the environment or not, however, extensive wildfires will likely have an enormous impact on a grizzly population and their migration patterns.
  6. Additional regulations should grizzlies be imported: Those responding to scoping documents or the inevitable EIS have little knowledge of laws, rules, and regulations associated with the importation of grizzlies into the North Cascades. Please inform the public of any changes in regulations or usage options of the North Cascades due to the importation of grizzlies.


Finally, having to respond to another grizzly scoping exercise with an EIS to follow leaves many in this community wondering, when will this end? Congressman Newhouse summarizes thoughts expressed by many in a letter to the NPS and FWS.

Central Washington Has (Already) Spoken: Grizzly Bears Are a Threat


By Congressman Dan Newhouse


For decades, Central Washingtonians have had to fight to make our voices heard over the noise of outside interest groups and government bureaucrats who think they know what is best for our communities. Unfortunately, last week’s decision by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reopen discussions on introducing grizzly bears, an apex predator, into the North Cascades Ecosystem proves that, once again, our voices are being ignored.


The debate over grizzly bear introduction in Washington state is nothing new. In 1995, Washington lawmakers mandated by law that grizzly bears “shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state.” Since then, the federal government has made multiple attempts to bypass our state’s law and illegally introduce the apex predator into the North Cascades Ecosystem. Our public lands, including the North Cascades National Park, are critical to our region—for species conservation, enjoyment and recreation, and for our water supply and agriculture industry. The introduction of grizzly bears would upset our ecosystem and cause undue hardships on agriculture producers, businesses, and families. This is the message I have heard and echoed, time and again, from the rural communities across our district.


I agree with Congressman Newhouse. The only consistent message heard from the NPS and the FWS is, we can’t (or refuse to) hear you! It seems the NPS and FWS have an agenda that demands that grizzlies WILL BE imported into the North Cascades. This bias is obvious. I will continue to respond to request for public comments, however, the feeling I have is of painful futility. It’s time to end the efforts to camouflage this grizzly importation effort with Equivocal Euphemisms.The visiting public deserves better; Stehekin residents and businesses deserve better, PCT hikers deserve better, and believe it or not, grizzlies deserve better – a theme I will address when the EIS is issued.


Ron Scutt

Stehekin Resident

President Stehekin Heritage

euphemism| – a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing


equivocation| – a  noun the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself; prevarication: I say this without equivocation.


Again, submit your thoughts using the link below.



Public Comment Period Ends December 14th!

NPS has reopened the plan to introduce grizzly bears into the area.

Public Comment is open until December 14th. Please help us oppose introducing grizzly bears in our backyard. Comment here

Last Chance to listen to the Grizzly Scoping Meetings Dec. 1st and 2nd – All information below.

Last Chance to listen to the Grizzly Scoping Meetings Dec. 1st and 2nd – All information below.
Date Start Time End Time Time Zone Location
Dec 1, 2022 12:00 PM 1:00 PM Pacific Standard Time online
Teams Live
Virtual, Washington

Please join National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and planners to learn about and discuss grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades. You are welcome to join the meeting anytime during the hours identified below.

The first opportunity to participate and provide comments on this process is during the Public Scoping period, which runs from November 10 – December 14, 2022. There will be four virtual meetings for this public scoping period, and each will present the same information and provide opportunity for questions. This is the third meeting.

Meeting Directions/Instructions:
Virtual public scoping meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams and can be accessed on both desktop computer or mobile device. See links below to access.

URL/Webinar link:

North Cascades Grizzly Bear Restoration Public Scoping Meeting Dec. 2nd 7:00-8:00 PM – Link same as above….
Date Start Time End Time Time Zone Location
Dec 2, 2022 7:00 PM 8:00 PM Pacific Standard Time online
Teams Live
Virtual , Washington

Stehekin Resident, Dick Bingham, Asks Some Grizzly Questions

Hello from Stehekin

I have many questions regarding the NPS / US F&W services plan to, again, add Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades NP Complex.

Question #! –
What do you NOT understand about North Central Eastern Washington residents NOT wanting Grizzly bears transferred from other places to our region.

Question #2 –
What do you expect to happen when, like at Glacier National Park where many trails are closed to visitors, trails inside the NCNP complex have to be closed due to Grizzly activity and traditional hiker users have to choose another location to recreate? There will be many unhappy campers!

Question #3 –
During the last effort by the NCNP to introduce Grizzly Bears, we who live at Stehekin were shocked by the revelation that Stehekin was NOT on the maps or discussion sections in their plan! Apparently we – Stehekin residents – do NOT count as important to the NCNP managers. Why is this the case ? Is it due to incompetent planners or just folks who “just WANT to have Grizzly Bears in the area to make it seem really wild.”

Question #4 –
WHAT and WHERE is the historic documentation that supports the view that huge numbers of Grizzly Bears were hunted-out of the North Central part of WA-State. Please present this information at any public meetings and in your EIS documentation. If historical material is found that counters this premise, the documentation the final EIS presents should be considered bogus and presented as something to bamboozle Stehekin residents and those who live in the affected regions in order to please those who live elsewhere that like the idea of Grizzly Bears in the NCNP.. It will certainly spell the death-knell for Stehekin property owners’ hope of reopening the road to Cottonwood Campground!

During a family vacation to Glacier National Park a few years ago, I asked an “Interp Ranger” for his off-the-record opinion about the Grizzly situation (asked after seeing multiple trail-head closures.) His reply was “It is out of control”.

I, for one, do not want this to be repeated at the NCNP complex and especially in the Stehekin environment.

BASICALLY, transferring Grizzly Bears to our area will be the equivalent of placing signs at each entry to the complex saying “Keep Out, Survivors Will Be Prosecuted”…

As a final thought, WHY in the face of “The debate over grizzly bear introduction in Washington state is nothing new. In 1995, Washington lawmakers mandated by law that grizzly bears “shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state.” do the NCNP and U.S F&W services persist in this activity?

Dick Bingham

Stehekin Valley Road Report

Secretary Bernhardt Listens to Local Concerns and Scraps Plans to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem

Secretary Bernhardt Listens to Local Concerns and Scraps Plans to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem
Last edited 7/8/2020
Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020

OMAK, WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced today at a roundtable with community members in Omak, Washington that the Department of the Interior (Department) will not move forward with a new Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan for the North Cascades Ecosystem and the associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“Representative Newhouse has been a tireless advocate for his community and his constituents regarding plans to reintroduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades Ecosystem,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “The Trump Administration is committed to being a good neighbor, and the people who live and work in north central Washington have made their voices clear that they do not want grizzly bears reintroduced into the North Cascades. Grizzly bears are not in danger of extinction, and Interior will continue to build on its conservation successes managing healthy grizzly bear populations across their existing range.”

“This announcement is welcomed by my constituents in Central Washington who have consistently shared my same concerns about introducing an apex predator into the North Cascades,” said U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-04). “Homeowners, farmers, ranchers, and small business owners in our rural communities were loud and clear: We do not want grizzly bears in North Central Washington. I have long advocated that local voices must be heard by the federal government on this issue, and I am enormously grateful to Secretary Bernhardt for not only listening to our concerns and opinions, but for delivering this news in person, right here in North Central Washington.”

The Department began planning the environmental review process for an updated Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan for the North Cascades Ecosystem in February 2015 under the Obama Administration without comprehensive public involvement and engagement. Beginning in 2017, the Department held numerous public meetings, Tribal consultations and more than 70 stakeholder briefings, during which overwhelming opposition was received for the plan. Two public review and comment periods were facilitated on the Draft EIS, receiving more than 143,000 comments.

Separate from the issue of reintroducing grizzly bears into the North Cascades, the recovery of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states is an amazing success story due to collaborative conservation efforts led by federal, Tribal, state and other partners. The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s have led these efforts for self-sustaining grizzly bear populations, primarily focused in six areas of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) has been the primary focus of grizzly recovery efforts to date. The GYE grizzly bear population is one of the most studied bear populations in the world due to the longstanding efforts of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) with grizzly bear populations increasing significantly since being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975.

In October of last year, Secretary Bernhardt visited Montana with U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte, speaking to additional actions that have now since been taken by the Department to strengthen state management of grizzly bears, help limit human conflict and effectively manage healthy populations of the species.

More information about the Department’s efforts to improve the status of grizzly bears in the lower 48 U.S. states can be found online.

A copy of the notice of termination can be found here and will be published in the Federal Register.

Continue Reading

The Stanley Place
by Bucky Gans [originally printed in the Stehekin Choice newspaper; edition August/September 1993]
Where the name of McGregor Mountain originated
Approximately five miles upvalley from the head of the lake lies one of the more desirable homestead sites in the Stehekin Valley, with level, fertile land, not heavily timbered and abundant water available from the Stehekin River. The first man to cast eyes on this site as a possible abode built himself a cabin, dug about half a mile of irrigation ditch, and planted a garden. This would-be homesteader was named Billy McGregor, and although he disappeared from the scene in 1901, his name lives on in the mountain which dominates the view at the head of the lake and which mightily overshadowed his modest homesite.

Mike Barnhart addresses the closure of the Stehekin Road: “I see an unfinished job here in Stehekin.”

Mike Barnhart, lifelong Stehekin resident and historian, expresses the significant changes the Stehekin Road closure has made on his, and others, ability to reach the high country. The following writing was first published in the Wenatchee World, June 7, 2017.

At the head of Lake Chelan, Stehekin is the gateway to some of our country’s most spectacular mountain scenery. Glacier-covered peaks reaching elevations of 10,000 feet have attracted prospectors, tourists and photographers since the 1800s, including my great-grandparents. The only access to Stehekin is by daily passenger ferry service from Chelan at the lower end of the lake, by float plane, or by hiking in, but once you get here there is only one land-locked road.

The 23 mile-long Stehekin Valley Road has historically been the link from the boat landing at Stehekin to the heart of the high mountain peaks, terminating at Cottonwood Campground, where trailheads allow hikers to travel even further into what some have called America’s Alps. A 3.5-mile hike to Horseshoe Basin, a cirque of waterfalls, sometimes year-round snow, and an abandoned mine shaft allowed visitors one of the best day trips anywhere in the nation. We took our young children on Saturday hikes. The Stehekin School made field trips. Even the elderly, if they were in reasonably good shape, could handle a day trip to Horseshoe Basin.

Flooding closed sections of the upper road in recent years until 2003, when it was permanently closed by the National Park Service at mile post 13, leaving 10 miles of the most spectacular section of the road closed. The Stehekin community and many others who love this valley have lobbied congress and the NPS to re-open the road, and eventually congress signed off on the plan. We all thought this was a huge step, which it was until NPS stated they are simply not going to open it. Period.

I have been fortunate to experience the high country in our upper valley in several ways. The first I remember was with my grandfather in about 1952 when we drove his old 1939 Chrysler to Rouse’s Camp, (currently called Basin Creek) about one mile beyond Cottonwood Campground. I was eight years old and cherish an old black and white photo my dad snapped of us.  When I was 14, I started working for my uncle on his horse packing outfit and we packed in Ansel Adams. The stunning scenery had attracted one our country’s most famous black and white photographers. Over the years I traveled many trails on foot and horseback. But as a disabled Vietnam veteran, I am no longer able to hike in to the places I love. Now I look at photos and listen to stories from my friends about the lands I once roamed.

My faith in our government sometimes wavers. I gave two years of my life in an unpopular war back in the ’60s, then watched the National Park Service take a solid stance on not re-opening the upper valley road, locking out the disabled and elderly from the most spectacular scenery in the world.

I see an unfinished job here in Stehekin. We have an expensive brand-new wheel chair-accessible dock, a lift to the deck where people can get a hamburger, and the wheel chair lifts on buses to take people up the valley, which is lovely, but does not represent the treasures North Cascades National Park has to offer.

The excuse we hear most often from NPS is lack of funding for such an expensive project, but they have not even requested funding. It is simply not their priority, but it’s not their park either. It belongs to all the people for the enjoyment of everyone. I take that to mean the disabled, elderly, children and people from all walks of life.

I hope to visit these places again and to see the wonder on the faces of people seeing them for the first time.

Mike Barnhart is a photographer and longtime Stehekin Valley resident who lives on the family homestead with his wife Nancy. His mother, June Courtney Barnhart, was born in a log cabin just down the road from his home. Mike wrote and published “At Home in The Woods, A Stehekin Family History – The Moores and Courtneys.”

Reasons for reopening the Upper Stehekin Valley Road

Promises: Legislation – public access for all – public safety – valley culture and heritage

“Because  opening the Upper Stehekin Valley Road is in keeping with the intention of all legislation for the area… Because  the opening of the Upper Stehekin Valley Road is necessary to provide public access for all and… Because opening the road is a necessity to provide for public health & safety.”… From the Stehekin Heritage Open the Upper Valley Road publication.

The Stehekin River Road is Critical to visitors and valley residents for these reasons…

It provides access for recreational activities for all, and fulfills the commitment stated in the 1964 Wilderness Act and the 1988 Washington Wilderness Act.

* It is an important part of Stehekin’s history… It is vital to the culture, heritage and economy of Stehekin.

* “This road provides access for fire suppression and is, therefore, critical to the health and safety of residents of our small community…” 

Below is a quote from David Brower of the Sierra Club when petitioning the NPS and general public concerning access to the North Cascades. He and his sons traveled up the Upper Stehekin Valley Road to make the movie, “The Wilderness Alps of Stehekin.”

“…The road treads softly… it starts at a handsome lakeshore and dead-ends in paradise… You have a right to discover it… and your children and theirs too just as we did. They can discover but only if we keep some wilderness in between the shining seas…”

~ David R. Brower ~ From the Sierra Club’s movie, The Wilderness Alps of Stehekin”

The Sierra Club and the National Park Service sold the idea of the North Cascades National Park promising accessibility.

The 1995 General Management Plan for the North Cascade National Park Complex: The significance of maintaining the Upper Valley Road was recognized as having significant value in the 1995 General Management Plan (GMP). The EIS performed for the valley’s GMP included alternatives that would have closed to the road to alternatives that would keep the road open. In response to the Wilderness Law and public input, the EIS for the GMP confirmed the road should be kept open.

Until the flood of 2003, the NPS operated the Upper Valley Road as follows: “Public shuttle bus service would be provided from the landing to Cottonwood. Only the public shuttle service, hikers, horses, and bicycles would be allowed to use the road from Bridge creek to Cottonwood. The National Park Service would seek a concessionaire to replace the National Park Service operated public shuttle service. Frequency of shuttle service would increase the current rate. Fare structures would provide discounts for frequent and local public shuttle users.”

The management plan further stated the reasoning for keeping the road open:

A wide spectrum of visitors would have diverse means of access to prime natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources without significantly affecting park resources or degrading the experience of other visitors.”

Even with the General Management Plan directive to maintain vehicular access into the park, it appears that the National Park Service used the 2003 flood event as a way close the road rather than provide public access as required by Congress and supported in General Management Plans.

Additionally: The legislative history of the Wilderness Act speaks specifically to maintaining an essential recreational corridor in the Stephen Mather Wilderness. Visitor access by vehicular transport was codified in the WSWA of 1988. Americans were promised that a primitive road corridor would be maintained to provide visitor access from the Stehekin into the heart of the Cascades.

Accessibility – Stehekin Heritage believes citizens of all ages and physical ability should have the opportunity to access the Upper Stehekin Valley and be inspired by the grandeur of this magnificent setting. In the challenging era we live, the opportunity to refresh the body and inspire the soul is as essential in 2008 as it was in 1958.

An NPS letter sent by Victor Knox demeans the limited number of visitors previously served through the NPS shuttle bus system.  He says 2,500 is not a large number. Two thousand five hundred people a year for twelve years equals thirty thousand visitors. At the same time he heralds the rise in hikers along the trail. No wonder! To get to Cottonwood, Horseshoe Basin and Cascade Pass from the south, you HAVE TO HIKE! Data below:

Between 1999 & 2003 an average of 2,500 visitors each year accessed the Upper Stehekin Valley Road via the shuttle bus … Over four years previous to the flooding, the total average number of shuttle visitors accessing the Upper Stehekin Valley Road







Extrapolated over fourteen years, 2,500 average shuttle riders per year would equal 35,000 visitors who were not able to access the Upper Valley Road on NPS shuttle buses.

Visitors, young & old, have the right to reasonable access to these public lands…

Public Safety: Mr. Knox provides no thoughts concerning the importance of the road and public safety: Below is a letter written by the Stehekin Fire District and submitted to the NPS.

Chelan County Fire District #10 has made it through our first season with a couple of close fires. Our cadre of active volunteers and wide community support have been wonderful. Organized efforts towards reducing fuel loading around private structures have augmented the National Park Service’s on-going fuel reduction work.

This positive first year of work has also served to remind and further educate us locals about the seriousness of the threat from wildfires we live with here. As we look to the challenges this valley presents to surviving re-occurring wildfires, access is at the top of our list of “Critical Needs”.

It is critical for the Park Service and the Fire District to have access up and down the valley to respond quickly to the summer high-risk fires, as well as being able to economically address various on-going fire prevention programs.

The road closure above Car Wash falls is a very real reduction in safety for visitors and residents alike. It is agreed that the forest up valley and up wind from us is in prime shape for a stand replacing catastrophic fire. Having a road to quickly respond to small fires before they get big, and access to systematically work at creating key fire breaks, is of utmost importance.

This summer, the Tolo Fire demonstrated how expensive fire fighting can be when helicopters are relied on for most of the logistics surrounding hauling supplies up and down valley. Having our road back would simplify stocking supplies at base and spike fire camps, and most importantly, would free up valuable helicopter time for actual fire fighting.

For these reason I urge you to support legislation allowing for re-opening the Stehekin Valley Road above Car Wash Falls, either along the most recent route near the river, or with no net loss to wilderness along the older Wagon Road route. CCFD#10 Fire Chief
Robert C Nielsen

Congressional Testimony

Senators Dan Evans and Brock Adams introduced the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1988. They were clear concerning the intention of this act. Even though they were recommending a vast wilderness complex be created in Washington State, Senators Evans and Adams spoke to the importance of maintaining public access into the heart of these wilderness areas. How do we know Senators Evans and Adams valued continued access into the wilderness? Introducing the bill, Senator Evans testified before Congress stating:

“What the bill would not do is to keep the park visitor shut out of the park. All the existing transportation and development corridors would be excluded from wilderness designation…  I believe the parks are there to provide recreation, as well as the preservation of the natural ecosystem.”    ~Senator Dan Evans~

Congress listened to Senators Evans and Adams and included provisions for maintaining the Stehekin Valley Road in the Act. The Washington State Wilderness Act was (and still is) unambiguous concerning the importance of public access along the 23 mile Stehekin Valley Road.

In response to the flood of 2003, the National Park Service conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA) to decide whether or not to repair or close the Upper Stehekin Valley Road. There are multiple levels of questionable management revealed when the National Park Service chose to use an EA rather than and EIS (Environmental Impact Statement).

Public responses to closure of the Upper Stehekin Valley Road…

“No alternative to the Stehekin valley issue should be considered that does not provide access to all by road to the historic end of the road at Cottonwood. Any other alternative is a form of discrimination and denial of historic access.”

~Craig Wilbur~

“It means too much to Stehekin’s cultural heritage, economic viability, and recreational opportunities to refuse to repair the road.”

~Jonathan Scherer~

Since the floods of recent years I have continued to attempt to hike and fish this area. Each year the area is less accessible to people.  … In the past two years I have walked between Car Wash Falls and the old Shady Campground and fished this area. In over twenty trips I have observed a total of less than twenty other people. Thirteen were seen in one trip over a major holiday weekend. I have never seen a young person under about age eighteen, an elderly person over sixty or a handicapped person. I’m sure it was not the intent to have a National Park which was inaccessible to people, was it?

~Bob Lehman~

“For the benefit of others like myself, the elderly, disabled and children there must be another option that will allow access and still be financially and environmentally acceptable to all parties.”

~Janice Fannin~

“I think with the millions of acres of park land, this small miniscule road will have next to zero impact on wildlife and the

physical nature of the valley.”

~Mark Stewart~

“It is my belief that NPS has an ethical and moral obligation to maintain “Upper Stehekin Road” in a condition as stated in the 1988 document, which states:  The 23-mile Stehekin Valley road will be maintained at its current length, width, and character.”

~Ken Munk~

“Unfortunately, the NCNP was shown to be the 5th LEAST used Park in the system mainly due to access issues for the public.”

~James T & Deborah A Gianulis~