tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation is urging the US Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, to act immediately and relaunch the recovery planning process for ki?lawna (grizzly bear) in the US portion of the North Cascades. This process was stalled under the previous US Administration since 2016. However, we are hopeful that the process will be revived by the Biden administration.
The North Cascades span both sides of the US-Canada border. ki?lawna are a keystone species in this ecosystem, but have been nearly extirpated by modern human development and environmental degradation of their habitat. It’s estimated that only six grizzlies are currently found on the Canadian side of this region.
Since 2014, the Syilx Okanagan Nation have been leading stewardship and recovery efforts north of the border — collaborating with partnered Nations, and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). Over the last eight years ONA has led the establishment of the Southwest Grizzly Bear Steering Committee (SGBSC), established to support a collaborative approach to grizzly bear recovery and stewardship, including habitat assessments and implementation planning. Alongside these efforts, we have been contributing to field and technical work that supports the future stewardship of ki?lawna in this ecosystem.
“The boundaries created by the US and Canada, are not recognized by ki?lawna. We are urging the US Department of Interior to act immediately and reinstate their recovery planning for this important species. By doing this we will be able to maximize viability of a future Grizzly bear population throughout the North Cascades.”, Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair stated.
ki?lawna has been an integral and critical part of Syilx culture since time immemorial, and its’ presence is an indicator of the health of the land and Nation. Within southern regions of Syilx Territory ki?lawna now occur in low, isolated numbers and much of their habitat has become degraded and highly contaiminated i.e. threats to food source, salmon, huckleberries and real estate development. The ONA will continue the work to ensure that the ki?lawna population will be successfully stewarded back to abundance throughout the North Cascades.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance is committed to conserve, manage, co-manage and where appropriate, develop the natural resources of the lands and waters of the Nation’s territory. In doing so, the Nation will be true to its spiritual and environmental values, mindful of the economic and social needs and aspirations of its individual bands, and strong in its assertion of the Nation’s rights and title to its entire area of occupancy and use.
For more information please contact:
ki?lawna (Chief Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair
Cailyn Glasser, Natural Resource Manager