Peninsula Businesses Backing Wild Olympics

Opposition mounted to an earlier version of the bill that would have authorized additions to Olympic National Park. Those provisions were dropped in the measure introduced Thursday by Rep. Norm Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray, both D-Wash.

The bill would protect the Big Quilcene watershed, which Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin says is the main source of drinking water for Port Townsend, which requires about 1 million gallons a day.

“It’s a beautiful high Olympic Mountain source of water; and also we have a paper mill, which requires about 10 million gallons of water a day – and this paper mill supports around 300 family-wage jobs.”

In addition to being an elected official, Austin also is a grandfather who says he wants his grandchildren to be able to enjoy the same benefits of Washington’s wilderness that he can enjoy today. Local farmers and clergy also expressed support for the measure, which would protect 19 local rivers and their tributaries.