(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.
“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.