AFL-CIO national President John Sweeney has thrown the support of organized labor behind a compromise proposal to restore grizzly bears to the Bitterroot Mountains.
“I am pleased to see this locally created solution to a controversial endangered species issue,” he said in a news release. “This new citizen-management concept will ensure the stability of local communities in the area while restoring an important wildlife species.”
The support cheered Phil Church of Lewiston. As past president of the United Paper Workers International local, he helped draft the plan.
Church, co-chairman of the Resource Organization on Timber Supply, worked with the Intermountain Forest Industry Association, National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife.
At the heart of the compromise plan is a citizens committee that would guide management of the bears. It would give the grizzlies an experimental, nonessential status. They could be shot in self-defense or removed if threatening livestock.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has endorsed that as its preferred alternative for grizzly recovery.
Gov. Phil Batt and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission oppose grizzly reintroduction. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies rejects the experimental status, instead opting for full protection under the Endangered Species Act.