Olympic National Park Staff Prepare for Summer Season: Come Find Your Park This Spring

As migrating birds return and wildflowers bloom in the lowland forests, employees at Olympic National Park are turning their attention to spring cleaning and preparations for the main visitor season.

“We’ve had an early spring at Olympic National Park and we’re happy to see people already coming out to enjoy the warmth, sunshine and budding trees,” said Olympic National Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.  “It’s still wintry at the park’s higher elevations though, and no matter the elevation, visitors should always be prepared for changing conditions, as rain and even snow are possible at any time of year.”

 

Staircase

The Staircase Campground is open year round for primitive camping (pit toilets and no water.)  Drinking water and flush toilets will be available during for the summer season from May 22 through September 28.

 

Dosewallips

The Dosewallips Road remains closed due to a washout outside the park boundaries in Olympic National Forest, so access to the campground is walk-in (5.5 miles) only.

 

Deer Park

Deer Park Road and campground are both scheduled to open by mid-June, snow permitting.  While most of the road is snow-free, drifts remain at the upper elevations.  If conditions allow, this area may open earlier than scheduled. The campground provides primitive camping, with pit toilets and no drinking water.

 

Hurricane Ridge Road and Heart O’ the Hills

Hurricane Ridge Road is currently open as weather and staffing allow. People should call the Road & Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131 for current conditions and road status.

 

Beginning in early May, the road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or late spring snow storms cause it to close temporarily.

 

The Hurricane Hill Road (the 1.5 mile of road that leads past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area and Hurricane Hill trailhead) is expected to open by mid-June.

 

Reaching elevations over 6,000 feet, sections of the Obstruction Point Road are still covered with four to five feet of snow, with higher drifts in some areas.  This road is expected to open in mid-June snow permitting.  If conditions allow, it may open earlier.

 

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open on weekends only beginning May 2.  Weekend hours will continue through June 7.  The Visitor Center will be staffed daily beginning June 12.  The snack bar and gift shop on the lower level of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open on weekends only from May 3 – May 18 and will open daily beginning May 22. Check http://www.olympicnationalparks.com for more information.

 

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open year round with drinking water and flush toilets available.

 

Elwha Valley

The Olympic Hot Springs Road is open to the Boulder Creek Trailhead, unless road work or weather conditions close it temporarily.   There is currently no access from the Olympic Hot Springs Road to Glines Canyon or the former Lake Mills, as construction of a new parking area and viewpoint continues. This area is expected to open this summer.

The Whiskey Bend Road is closed to vehicle traffic at Glines Canyon Overlook, one mile above the intersection with Olympic Hot Springs Road. Winter rains caused a major washout that destrobyed a 500-foot section of road. The road remains open to foot, bicycle and horse travel, but all horse trailers must be parked and stock off-loaded at the Elwha picnic area. Horse trailers are not allowed on the Whiskey Bend Road because there not  currently a turnaround that will accommodate trailers.

 

The Elwha Campground is open year round for primitive camping (pit toilets and no water.)  Drinking water and flush toilets will be activated for the summer on April 17 through September 14.

 

Altair Campground is closed until further notice because of damage and loss of campsites and roadway caused by high winter flows along the Elwha River.  A timeline and plans for repairing and reopening the campground have not been completed.

 

Olympic Raft and Kayak, based just outside the park along the Elwha River, offers guided raft trips on the Elwha River, as well as kayak trips and other opportunities.  Check http://www.raftandkayak.com/ for more information.

 

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent Lodge will open for the season on May 2 and will remain open through January 1, 2016, offering a range of lodging options, a dining room, boat rentals and gift shop.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

Fairholme Campground will open this summer from May 21 through October 5, with drinking water and flush toilets available.  Beginning May 1, Fairholme General Store will be open Friday through Sunday through May 17.  Beginning May 22, the store will be open daily through September 7.

 

The Log Cabin Resort will open May 22 through September 30 for lodging, RV and tent camping, a boat launch, dining room and store.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

La Poel Picnic area will open for day use on Saturday, May 23.

 

Sol Duc Valley

The Sol Duc Road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause it to close temporarily.

 

The Sol Duc Campground is open year round; drinking water and flush toilets will be activated on April 16.

 

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, is open for the season with lodging, dining, hot springs and a small store.  More information is available at http://www.olympicnationalparks.com

 

Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest Road is generally open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause it to close temporarily.  The Hoh Rain Forest Campground is open year round with drinking water and flush toilets available.

 

The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is currently operating out of a temporary trailer while the main visitor center is under renovation.  The visitor center is now open Friday through Tuesday and will be open daily from June 17 through September 7.  The primary visitor center is expected to reopen this spring, at which time the temporary facilities will be removed.

 

Pacific Coast

Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette—Olympic National Park’s road-accessible coastal destinations—are open, including all roads, campgrounds and trailheads, except for the Beach Four parking area and trail, which are closed due to erosion damage.

 

The Kalaloch and Mora campgrounds both provide drinking water and flush toilets.  The Ozette Campground is primitive, with pit toilets and no potable water in the campground, however, water is available nearby.  South Beach Campground, a primitive campground located just south of Kalaloch, will open on May 15.

 

The Kalaloch Information Station will be open five days a week (Tuesday through Saturday) beginning on May 19.  Daily hours will begin June 16.

 

Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round with cabins, lodge rooms, dining and a gift shop.  For more information, check http://www.thekalalochlodge.com/ for more information.

 

Queets Valley

The Lower and Upper Queets roads are both open 24 hours a day, unless road work or weather conditions cause temporary closures, however the Lower Queets Road is closed about a half-mile below Matheny Creek (one mile before the end of the road) due to road damage. The Queets Campground is open for primitive camping with pit toilets and no potable water.

 

Quinault Rain Forest

The Quinault Loop Road, which includes the Quinault North Shore and South Shore roads, is open. The Graves Creek and North Fork roads are also open.  All Quinault area roads are typically open 24 hours a day, unless temporarily closed by road work or weather conditions.

 

The Graves Creek Campground and North Fork Campground are both open for primitive camping with pit toilets and no drinking water.

 

Park Trails & Wilderness Information Center
The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), located at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning May 12.

 

Visitors are encouraged to stop by or call the Wilderness Information Center located within the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 360-565-3100 for current trail reports, spring hiking safety tips and trip planning suggestions.  Information is also available at the park’s website.

Several feet of snow remains on the ground, beginning at elevations above 4,000 feet. Even at low elevations, hikers are reminded to use caution and be aware of downed trees, trail damage, high and swift creek crossings, and changing weather conditions.

Olympic National Park Seeks Volunteer Citizen Scientists to Study Olympic Marmots

The Olympic National Park is now accepting volunteer applications for the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program 2015 survey season. Launched in 2010, the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program employs teams of volunteers to visit designated survey areas within the park and gather timely and vital information about the Olympic marmot’s population presence and distribution.

The Olympic marmot (Marmota olympus) is an iconic species of the Olympic Peninsula. They are the official endemic mammal of the state of Washington, found only in the alpine meadows within the park and surrounding National Forest and nowhere else in the world.

An Olympic marmot seen at Hurricane Hill, holds the root of a plant in its paw. Ken and Mary Campbell
An Olympic marmot seen at Hurricane Hill, holds the root of a plant in its paw.
Photo: Ken and Mary Campbell

Tracking Olympic marmot populations and monitoring their changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis. Through cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, monitoring occurs over the species’ entire range.

More than 90 volunteers participate in the project each year, hailing from the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle/Tacoma area, and as far away as Portland, Oregon and British Columbia.

“Over the last five years, the outstanding work and dedication of our marmot citizen scientists has provided important information for continued protection of the Olympic marmot,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Citizen Science programs provide valuable data and unique opportunities for volunteers to take part in in research that influences the management of their park.”

Volunteers must be capable of hiking to and camping in remote areas, navigating off-trail, and working on steep slopes. Survey trips are one to eight days in length. Most survey areas are located between five and twenty miles from a trailhead or road and involve a one or two day hike with significant elevation gain. Survey groups camp out in or near the survey areas and search for marmots for two to four days.

A limited number of day hike assignments are available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge and Obstruction Point survey areas.

Volunteers work in groups of two to six people. To ensure safety, volunteers must travel and monitor with a partner. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

All volunteers are required to participate in a one-day training that includes both classroom and field instruction. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation. Camping fees will be waived at Heart O’ the Hills and other front-country sites for the evening before training. Park entrance and backcountry fees will also be waived for volunteers.

The 2015 application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted, or last longer if some trips remain unfilled. After the 2015 survey season, the program will be on hiatus for several years to allow researchers to analyze the data and evaluate how frequently the program needs to be conducted in order to effectively track the marmot population, so interested people should apply soon!

The Marmot Monitoring Program is made possible by donations through Washington’s National Park Fund. To learn more about Washington’s National Park Fund or contribute please visit http://wnpf.org.

To learn more and to apply to be a Marmot Citizen Scientist,  visits the park’s website, www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/olympic-marmot-monitoring.htm.

A short video about the project and the marmot monitor training can be found at http://nwparkscience.org/node/1044.

Program Overview and Results of the 2014 Field Season

This was our 5th full year of the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program, and the 3rd year adding lands on Olympic National Forest. With the addition of USFS lands the program now encompasses the entire range of the species –pretty sobering. In 2014 we had 70 volunteers in 28 groups participate in the program;a total of 3040 volunteer hours were donated.Volunteer training was held on four Wednesdays in the months of August and September.Following training, surveyors spent from 1-8 days in a variety of areas of the Park and Forest, ranging from the front-country on Hurricane Hill to deep in the parkon Skyline Ridge.Volunteer surveyors in all regions traversed high-elevation meadows and rock-fields looking for and documenting sign of marmots and marmot burrows. The late season snowpack was below average;consequently access was not limited by snowfields in 2014. Volunteers surveyed for marmots in 239 survey units located in 50 habitat clusters. Surveyors were able to completely survey 215 units and partially survey 24 others (Figure 2).

2014 Survey Results

Figure 2.  Location of survey units and survey results for units that were completely surveyed in 2013.
NPS
Core Sites graph

Of the units that were completely surveyed in the core clusters in the Park in 2014, 52% were found to be occupied by marmots, 18% were abandoned (surveyors saw past but not recent sign of marmot use) and 30% had no sign of marmots.The rate of occupancy has varied between 53 and 48 % during the 5 years of the survey, and appears to be stable (Figure 3).

Graph of USFS marmot monitoring sites

USFS Sites: Unlike the survey units in the park, the USFS survey units were not ground-truthed prior to the 2012 survey season. Ground-truthing occurred throughout the 2012 and 2013 season. Of the 46 survey units identified on USFS lands, volunteers were able to completely survey 17, partially survey 8, and unable to survey 21. The reasons for the incomplete or lack of survey varied, ranging from unsuitable habitat, too steep, or not enough time to get to all the units in the allotted time frame. Of the 17 units that were completely surveyed, only 12% (2) were occupied by marmots in 2013. As these survey areas are continuing to be refined, these data should be viewed with caution.


Conclusions and Plans for 2015
We are going to do one more year of monitoring (2015) and then take a break for data analysis.We plan to work with some statisticians and not only look at the trends in the marmot population, but also evaluate the strengths and weakness of the monitoring program, and see if we need to make any modifications to the study design or implementation plan.Depending on the results of the analysis, we hope to be back up and running with the program in 2017 or 2018.

Acknowledgements
In 2014 this project was supported by a continuing grant from Washington’s National Park Fund and funding from the U.S.F.S, Olympic National Forest. Training space was provided by Peninsula College. This whole endeavor would not have been possible without the hard work of the volunteer citizen scientists!

Vehicle of missing Seattle woman found abandoned near Neilton

The vehicle of a missing Seattle woman was located last week in the Olympic National Forest, 33 year old Donna Van Zandt was not. Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate tells KBKW last Friday evening, United States Forrest Service notified the Sheriff’s Department of an abandoned 2000 Honda Civic that had been located by hunters scouting an area near Neilton. The location was a very remote logging road approximately 5 miles in on Quinault Ridge Road. A deputy was eventually able to make his way to the vehicle and determined the car most likely had been at the location for several months due to the vegetation that had grown up around the car. The keys to the vehicle were still inside in addition to camping and hiking gear. There was no other obvious information to indicate what may have happened to the driver/occupants.

Donna Van Zandt

The vehicle was registered to Donna Van Zandt, a 33 year old female from Seattle. On Saturday investigators worked on locating family and friends of Van Zandt. At this point, it appears the last family contact was in April of 2014. Family members did explain that in January of this year, Van Zandt’s father was apparently murdered in New York, and April was the 2nd anniversary of her mother’s passing.

On Sunday, numerous search and rescue members searched the area where Van Zandt’s vehicle was located. Van Zandt was not located on that day.

Here is the vehicle that was located, in addition to a picture of Van Zandt.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Van Zandt is asked to call Detective Keith Peterson of the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office at 360-249-3711.

Donna Van Zandt car

Olympic National Forest asks “Which roads are important to you?”

The Olympic National Forest is hosting open houses asking the public to share the areas and roads they use on the Forest.  This information will help the Forest identify a financially sustainable road system that meets diverse access needs, minimizes environmental harm, and is safe and dependable because it is scaled to available resources.

 

“Your participation will help us understand your access needs,” said Forest Supervisor Reta Laford.  “It would be particularly helpful to know what areas you use on the Forest and what roads you use to get there.”

 

The open houses will be held around the Olympic Peninsula during the summer of 2014.

 

DATE TIME LOCATION
July 30 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Quinault  – Olympic National Forest, Quinault Ranger Station • 353 South Shore Rd.
August 19 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Shelton  – Shelton Civic Center • 525 West Cota St.
August 21 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Aberdeen – Rotary Log Pavilion •1401 Sargent Blvd.
August 27 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Olympia  – Olympic National Forest, Supervisor’s Office •1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW

 

In addition to attending open houses, the public may provide comments using the web-based map or on-line questionnaire on the Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/olympic/sustainableroads.  Questionnaires are also available at any Olympic National Forest office.  Comments will be taken until August 31, 2014.

 

Forest road.

Approximately 2,000 miles of roads on the Olympic National Forest provide access for resource management, recreation, and a variety of other uses. About 1,200 miles are open to motorized vehicles and 600 miles are closed, that may be opened intermittently for resource management.

As part of a National effort, we are conducting a road system analysis to identify the minimum road system needed “for travel and for administration, utilization, and protection of National Forest System lands” [36 CFR 212.5(b)Forest Service Manual 7710Forest Service Handbook 7709.55(20)].

By the Fall of 2015, we will integrate agency and public input to produce a travel analysis report that will provide the basis for developing future proposed actions for travel management.

Your participation will help us understand your access needs! Learn how to help.

Outdoor Burning Restricted in Grays Harbor County

Effective 12:01 A.M. Wednesday, July 16, 2014, Grays Harbor County Fire Districts and Fire Departments in cooperation with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR.) and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), will be enacting restrictions on all outdoor burning. All residential burning, along with land clearing and silvicultural [forest practices] burning will be prohibited until further notice. Recreational campfires are allowed if built in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds, such as those typically found in local, county, and state parks and in commercial campgrounds. On private land, campfires are permitted with the landowner’s permission if built in the following approved manner: The campfire shall be no greater than 3-feet in diameter and constructed of a ring of metal, stone or brick 8-inches above ground surface, with a 2-foot- wide area cleared down to exposed soil surrounding the outside of the pit. -• The campfire shall have an area at least 10-feet around it cleared of all flammable material and at least 20-feet of clearance from overhead flammable materials or fuels. The campfire must be attended at all times by a responsible person at least 16-years old with the ability to extinguish the fire with a shovel and a 5-gallon bucket of water or with a connected and charged water hose. Completely extinguish campfires by pouring water or moist soil in them and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch. The use of self-contained camp stoves is encouraged as an alternative.
For more information on local fire restrictions
Grays Harbor County: Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) .249-4222 Fire Districts: Emergency pages of the local telephone book City. Fire Departments: Government pages of the local telephone book Washington State Department of Natural Resources: Pacific Cascade Regional Office at (360) 577-2025 or Olympic Region Office at (360) 374-2811 Olympic Region Clean Air Agency: 1-800-422-5623 Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest: (360) 565-3121
For daily updates on burn restrictions Contact DNR at 1-800-323-BURN or visit .the website at www2.wadnrmov/burn-risk then click on fire information in the far right corner. Contact ORCAA at 1-800-422-5623 or visit their website at www.orcaa.orq.

Wild Olympics, Elma supporter get starring role in national TV program

Washington’s Wild Olympics and the local effort to safeguard its clean water and old growth forests are highlighted in an upcoming episode of the television series This American Land, which airs nationwide on PBS stations.  The segment features interviews with a number of Olympic Peninsula community members working to permanently protect ancient forests and salmon streams on Olympic National Forest as wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers.

 

“This American Land” has posted the entire Wild Olympics segment for viewing/sharing HERE.

In the piece, Port Townsend City Councilor Michelle Sandoval explains that people are drawn to the Peninsula for the recreational opportunities and stunning scenery, and stay because of the clean water and high quality of life. Bill Taylor of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton describes the importance of this clean water to his Hood Canal oyster beds, calling it the “lifeblood” of his industry.  John Lockwood, owner of Pygmy Boats in Port Townsend, says that small manufacturers like him depend on the area’s incredible recreation opportunities to stay afloat.  Port Townsend Fish biologist Dr. Peter Bahls explains how Olympic Peninsula salmon runs are still recovering from a hundred years of overfishing and heavy timber harvesting on the national forest.   And retired logger Fred Rakevich of Elma says though he’s traveled all over, the ancient forests and free-flowing rivers of the Wild Olympics remains “something we need to protect and cherish.”  

 

Connie Gallant of Quilcene, chair of the Wild Olympics Campaign, who also appears in the program, says, “We are delighted that This American Land has included our beautiful piece of the world in its series.  The many local voices featured showcase the broad local support for safeguarding this stunning landscape.   They come from different backgrounds and interests and use our public land in various ways, but they find common ground in the desire to permanently protect our ancient forests and salmon streams just as they are as a legacy to future generations.”

 

“Our mission is to bring our viewers the kind of serious yet entertaining conservation journalism that broadens their knowledge of critical issues with stories that they won’t see anywhere else,” says This American Land executive producer Gary Strieker. “Each segment focuses on unique and little-known places that deserve protection.”

 

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) have introduced legislation to permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of ancient and mature forests on Olympic National Forest as wilderness, and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and major tributaries as Wild and Scenic.  The bill is aimed at permanently safeguarding critical salmon & steelhead habitat, outdoor recreation and sources of clean drinking water for local communities. The measure is backed by over 450 local sportsmen organizations & guides, elected officials, business owners, conservation & outdoor recreation groups, faith leaders –  including majorities on the Westport & Ocean Shores City Councils and over 80 local businesses in Grays Harbor County alone. The measure was crafted with considerable local stakeholder involvement over several years. A group of Olympic Peninsula hunters, anglers and guides called Sportsmen for Wild Olympics have organized in support of the measure and created a website providing a list of threats facing salmon streams unless they are permanently protected under the Wild Olympics legislation.

 

The Wild Olympics segment will air as part of the fourth season of This American Land, which will begin broadcasting in the Seattle area in August. http://www.thisamericanland.org

Sportsmen for Wild Olympics announce new endorsements & video

A group of Olympic Peninsula hunters, anglers, and guides of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics delivered signatures last week from more than 300 local sportsmen and women on a petition to Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer in support of their new legislation to permanently protect headwaters and salmon streams on Olympic National Forest and enhance access.  The signers urge the lawmakers to keep the ancient forests and free-flowing rivers wild, because “Peninsula salmon, trout, and steelhead rely on cold, clean water from upper reaches of rivers & streams on Olympic National Forest. These headwaters & streams are at risk as private industry and small hydro developers try to roll back temporary safeguards on our public lands.”

This new support comes on the heels of new endorsements by over two dozen major hunting and fishing organizations and local guides, including nineteen leading sportsmen groups and Peninsula guides who recently sent a joint letter to Sen. Murray and Rep. Kilmer urging action to safeguard this area.  Those signing the letter include Piscatorial Pursuits (Forks), Waters West Guide Service (Montesano), Angler’s Obsession (Forks), Little Stone Fly Fisher (Port Townsend), Johnson Guide Service (Sequim), Anadromy Fly Fishing (Forks), Game On! Guide Service (Shelton), Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (Forks), Able Guide Service (Seiku), Gray Wolf Fly Fishing Club (Sequim), Peninsula Sportsman (Port Townsend), Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Northwest Guides & Anglers Association, the Washington Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Association of Northwest Steelheaders and others.

 

Both the petition and the letter state that “Only full, Congressionally-designated Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect backcountry elk habitat and sensitive salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development.” The group further notes that the final compromise legislation removed all roads from the proposed wilderness boundaries, ensuring Wild Olympics will not close roads or affect any road or trailhead access.

 

Sportsmen for Wild Olympicsalso released a new video: ”Salmon Streams for Our Future” to spotlight the headwaters, rivers and salmon that would be protected under the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, and the threats they face without permanent protection. It highlights the long list of support for Wild Olympics from 27 leading hunting & fishing organizations and local guides, and features stunning footage of spawning salmon shot by acclaimed local filmmaker John Gussman. An interview with Sequim fishing guide & Sportsmen for Wild Olympics co-founder Norrie Johnson explains how the legislation is vital to protecting the headwaters, rivers & streams on Olympic National Forest that local anglers depend on for salmon & steelhead fishing. The video closes with a call for hunters & anglers to visit the Sportsmen for Wild Olympics website and sign their online petition in support of the Wild Olympics legislation.

 

Dave Bailey, Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA and a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics says the group is releasing the video to show people that the threats to local salmon streams are real and that Wild Olympics is broadly supported in the local sportsmen community.

“People think that because these areas appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe.  That is the furthest thing from the truth,” said Bailey. “There is a determined effort in Congress to roll back safeguards on our public lands and open these sensitive spawning grounds to small hydro development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more.  That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen” said Bailey.

The Sportsmen are concerned that without immediate action on this issue, extreme logging legislation before Congress and the renewed push for small-hydro project development in Washington State are putting the remote backcountry headwaters and salmon streams on Olympic National Forest at risk.  (Click here to read the Sportsmen for Wild Olympics threats report, “Our Rivers & Headwaters at Risk”)

Aaron O’Leary, a member of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics and owner and head guide of Angler’s Obsession (Forks, WA),  put it plainly; “Supporting Wild Olympics will help preserve the salmon and steelhead fishing on the Olympic Peninsula for future generations.”  (Click here to see profiles of all the members of Sportsmen For Wild Olympics “About Us” )

 

Many area hunters and anglers have long been supportive of legislation introduced earlier by Sen. Murray and former Rep. Dicks, and participated in the four year public process initiated by local stakeholders and the lawmakers to craft a balanced protection plan for upper watersheds on Olympic Forest.

The Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Leaders have also updated their website to help dispel some of the myths about Wild Olympics & access, highlighting the fact that it will not close one single mile of the 2,250 miles of roads on Olympic National Forest and that Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers protect and enhance hunting & fishing access (Click Here to Read Wild Olympics Protects & Enhances Access Without Closing Roads).   “Wild Olympics will not only protect water quality and fish, but enhance public access,” said Roy Morris, Jr., a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics and Owner/Head Guide for Able Guide Service out of Seiku, on the northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula. Dave Bailey added that “Wild and Scenic Rivers are managed to protect and enhance the values that make them eligible for designation that include recreational pursuits such as sportfishing.”

“We must not lose this critical opportunity to conserve and protect the headwaters and watershed forests that are vital to our wild fish, birds and wildlife,” said Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide Bob Triggs of Port Townsend — one of the co-founders of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics. “It is far simpler and less expensive to conserve the wilderness habitat that we have, rather than to attempt to restore these places later. The value of some wild places cannot be measured in money.”

 

“Only Congressionally-designated wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect core backcountry elk habitat and critical salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development,” said Dave Bailey.  “The Wild Olympics legislation would give our fish, wildlife and salmon streams the gold standard of protection they deserve.”

 

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Video “Salmon Streams for Our Future”

 

·             Sportsmen For Wild Olympics Threats Report “Our Rivers & Headwaters at Risk”

 

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics About Us

 

·             Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Website: www.SportsmenForWildOlympics.org

Coalition cheers Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014

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.”

 

Wild Olympics is endorsed by more than 470 local businesses, farms, faith leaders, local elected officials, hunting, fishing and recreation groups: www.wildolympics.org/supporters/endorsements

Senator Murray, Representative Kilmer Introduce Legislation to Protect Olympic Peninsula

(Washington, D.C.) – After extensive engagement and discussion with residents and local business leaders on the Olympic Peninsula, today Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 in the Senate and House of Representatives.  As part of an ongoing effort to preserve and grow jobs on the Olympic Peninsula, this legislation would protect some of the most environmentally sensitive parts of our region for future generations while protecting access to outdoor recreation opportunities and private landowners’ rights.

Map: Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Proposed Wild & Scenic Rivers Within the Wild Olympics Act of 2014

Proposed Wilderness Within the Wild Olympics Act of 2014

 

“The Olympic Peninsula’s wild spaces are among Washington state’s crown jewels, and the Wild Olympics proposal supports the foundation of conservation developed over generations,” said Senator Patty Murray.  “This plan is the result of several years of negotiation and compromise and I am thrilled to reintroduce today with Representative Kilmer, with whom I have done additional work prior to reintroduction.  This legislation is a step in the right direction to protect our most treasured places for our kids and grandkids, and I look forward to working with Representative Kilmer to pass this bill into law.”

“As someone who grew up in Port Angeles and saw first-hand the economic impact of the decline of the timber industry, I’ve always said that economic growth and environmental protection is not an either-or choice: we’ve got to do both. That’s why I brought industry and environmental leaders together to form a collaborative effort to increase harvest in our federal forests and protect the environment and it’s why I am introducing this bill today,” said Representative Kilmer. “This proposal is part of a practical, balanced economic development strategy to not only protect the natural beauty of our area for generations to come, but to help attract businesses to our region and help them stay, grow and invest for the future.”

 

This legislation would designate 126,554 acres of existing federal land as wilderness in the Olympic National Forest and designate 464 river miles across 19 rivers and some major tributaries on the Olympic Peninsula as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The wilderness designation permanently protects old growth and ancient forest habitat throughout the region. The Wild and Scenic Rivers designation would add federal recognition to the outstanding river systems on the Peninsula, protecting them as a source of clean drinking water and helping to keep the Puget Sound clean for generations to come and does not place restrictions on private property rights.

 

Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of  2014  builds off of legislation introduced in 2012 by Senator Murray and former Representative Norm Dicks that was a result of nearly three years of public engagement with residents, business owners, organizations, and Native American tribes. Based on additional public input, Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer made several changes to the legislation to address concerns and strengthen sections about private landowners’ rights.

New grassroots partnership aims to improve grass, roots, on Olympic National Forest

Goals include:

 

  • Increasing the amount of acres treated and total harvest volume produced in forest restoration projects under the Northwest Forest Plan and increasing the number and footprint of aquatic and other non-thinning related restoration projects.

 

  • Creating a framework of agreement on the type and locations of forest restoration treatments that benefit the ecosystem and provide for increased harvest levels under the Northwest Forest Plan.

 

  • Improving treatment effectiveness and working to reduce the time and cost required to plan and prepare projects through increased efficiencies for the Forest Service.

 

  • Creating a framework of agreement around innovative forest practices, treatments and techniques that integrate ecological, social, and economic goals, and exploring whether the Adaptive Management Area (AMA) established under the Northwest Forest Plan provides an opportunity to test these alternative approaches.

 

  • Collaborating on specific projects, as needed, to create an environment that reduces conflict and seeks to achieve a common vision about the future of the Olympic National Forest. 

 

  • Creating a forum for addressing any problems that stand in the way of accomplishing our stated goals with the active involvement of federal elected and agency officials.

 

Organizations and representatives supporting the Olympic Peninsula Collaborative include:

American Forest Resource Council

American Whitewater

Cosmo Specialty Fibers

Green Creek Wood Products

Interfor

Merrill & Ring

The Mountaineers

Murphy Company

Olympic Park Associates

Olympic Forest Coalition

Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society

Pew Charitable Trusts

Sierra Pacific Industries

Simpson Lumber Company

Washington Wild

Wild Olympics Campaign

 

The Olympic Peninsula Collaborative, modeled on similar partnerships elsewhere in Washington state and around the country, is a grassroots, stakeholder driven partnership and the first of its kind to be solely devoted to building greater consensus around public lands on the Olympic Peninsula.  Since early this year, Representative Kilmer has convened discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders on solutions to problems facing the Olympic National Forest including a field hearing in August in Port Angeles dealing with collaborative forest harvest agreements. 

 

“I have always said that we don’t have to choose between economic development and environmental protection. This is the beginning of a long-term partnership that I hope will help prove that’s true,” said Representative Derek Kilmer. “The Olympic Peninsula Collaborative will show we can build consensus and can bring folks together to simultaneously create a more environmentally healthy forest, provide for increased, sustainable timber harvests on the Olympic National Forest, and provide economic benefits to timber communities on the Peninsula.”

 

“We thank Congressman Kilmer for bringing all parties to the table to focus on areas where we agree rather than disagree.” said Olympic Forest Coalition President Connie Gallant and Olympic Park Associates Vice President Tim McNulty in a joint statement. “This collaborative process will improve habitat conditions in the forests and streams on the Olympic Peninsula for a range of species. Currently, there are thousands of acres of dense and structurally simple forest on the ONF that provide poor habitat. Increasing the amount of carefully designed, habitat restoration thinning treatments in these types of forests will improve diversity and encourage the development of more complex, older forest conditions. Combining thinning with holistic watershed restoration projects will improve water quality and fish & wildlife habitat. OFCO and OPA will be helping to craft and monitor these projects to ensure they follow the best available science and the Northwest Forest Plan.”

 

“The current approach to managing the Olympic National Forest is not meeting the economic, social, and ecological needs of the forest or communities on the Peninsula.  Common sense solutions to create jobs through increased active, sustainable timber management on the Olympic National Forest is urgently needed to address chronic local unemployment and poverty rates that are among the highest in the state and nearly double those of the Seattle area,” said Matt Comisky, Washington Manager of the American Forest Resource Council.  “The volume of timber currently harvested from the Olympic National Forest is less than 10 percent of historic levels, only 13 percent of the volume of timber that dies each year, and a mere 3 percent of the annual forest growth.  Our industry looks forward to working with Congressman Kilmer and other partners to promote more balanced, innovative approaches to timber management that provide a sustainable future for our industry and the local communities as part of continued discussions about the future of the Olympic National Forest.”