QUILCENE, Wash. (Jan. 17) A broad and diverse coalition of Olympic Peninsula community members cheered the introduction today of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 by Representative Derek Kilmer and Senator Patty Murray. The measure, similar to that introduced in the last Congress, by Senator Murray and former Congressman Norm Dicks would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of ancient and mature forests on Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their major tributaries as Wild and Scenic.
“Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer deserve tremendous thanks for working to ensure that our beloved Olympic Peninsula will be here for our grandchildren,” said Connie Gallant, chair of the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Coalition. “This landmark legislation will protect the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for all time. It will safeguard critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for our local communities, protecting our unmatched quality of life on the Peninsula. We are extremely grateful to Representative Kilmer for continuing the work begun years ago by Representative Norm Dicks and Senator Murray to protect the Wild Olympics. It is testament to the commitment and hard work of Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer that we may — for the first time in nearly 30 years — see new wilderness on Olympic National Forest, as well as the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.”
“Safeguarding our natural environment is a key to providing steady and sustainable income to our rural economies,” said Roy Nott, an Aberdeen Business Leader and former Timber Company Executive. “The Olympic Peninsula’s stunning scenery sport fishing, clamming, hiking, hunting, bird watching and other forms of outdoor recreation all contribute to our local economic health and are critical to attracting and retaining the highly skilled employees that growing, technology-based companies want and need.”
“This bill will protect and promote the same spectacular public lands and high quality of life that are helping to drive growth and create local jobs in real estate, construction and many other sectors of our economy today,” said Harriet Reyenga, an independent realtor for Windermere Real Estate in Port Angeles. “Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and amazing landscapes are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions.” Reyenga, who won the 2012 Realtor Achievement Award from the Port Angeles Association of Realtors, added, “We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. The Wild Olympics legislation will do both.”
“People think that because these areas appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe,” said Dave Bailey, Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA and a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics www.SportsmenForWildOlympics.org. “Unfortunately, that is the furthest thing from the truth. There is a determined effort in Congress to roll back safeguards on our public lands and open these sensitive spawning grounds to small hydropower development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more. That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen. This legislation is critical to preserve what we have.”
“Places like lower Gray Wolf, Lena Lake, South Fork Skokomish and South Quinault Ridge deserve the ‘gold standard’ of protection, and that is what this visionary bill provides,” said Tim McNulty, of Sequim, Wild Olympics Coalition member and author of Olympic National Park: A Natural History. “The conservation community has been working for decades to safeguard these unparalleled areas. Today is a day to celebrate, but now we must work to get this important legislation passed by Congress and signed into law. Future generations deserve no less.”
“The two largest shellfish hatcheries that supply seed to the West Coast industry are located on Hood Canal, said Bill Taylor President, of Taylor Shellfish in Shelton. “Well over 150 jobs are provided in Hood Canal alone by the industry, not including the indirect jobs such as processing, sales and shipping. By taking a watershed approach to protecting Olympic Peninsula forests and rivers we ensure clean and safe water so that shellfish companies can continue to grow and further benefit the economy and ecology of Washington state.”
“As an outdoor recreation business owner and an avid outdoorsman, my livelihood depends on clean, free-flowing rivers, said Morgan Colonel, the Owner of Olympic Raft and Kayak, Port Angeles I managed a Jackson Hole river company during the designation of the Snake River as Wild & Scenic, and saw firsthand the benefits of safeguarding this vital waterway. Active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to Washington’s economy, and supports 115,000 jobs. Businesses like mine depend on access to the high quality natural resources the Olympic Peninsula is known for. Protecting these resources is an investment in our region’s economic future, and the smart thing to do.”