With plans to see House Resolution 2642 on the house floor this week, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer held a press call Monday on the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. He told a conference of leaders, “In our region, we understand that protecting public lands isn’t just about saving these unforgettable places for future generations it also means protecting high-quality jobs for the next generation as well.”

After years of revisions and conversations, the bill passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee in December, “This proposal has really evolved over time through a whole lot of public engagement with tribes and conservation groups and folks from the timber industry and business leaders and shellfish growers and everyone in between with an eye for creating a bill that works for our local communities.”

Kilmer said the final revisions protect rivers and streams while ensuring no impact to timber jobs, protect and grow outdoor recreation while safeguarding sources of clean drinking water and protect habitat restoration efforts. “This proposal will not close or decommission or otherwise restrict access to any forest service roads or trailheads. It will not impact any of the harvestable timber base in the Olympic National Park. It cannot affect private property rights, and it will not impact how the Washington Department of Natural Resources manages state-owned land.”

There is No Olympic National Park expansion, supporters dropped the 37,000 acres of willing-seller/willing buyer proposal, added 7,400 acres of old-growth and mature forests while they removed 11,300 acres of timber base from the proposed wilderness designation. No roads will be closed, and supporters removed all Forest Service roads from Proposed Wilderness so access is preserved.

Also speaking on the phone call Monday was Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish, Crystal Dingler, Mayor of Ocean Shores, Ashley Nichole Lewis, of Bad Ash Fishing, Roy Nott, President of LD Nott Company, and State Representative Steve Tharinger, 24th Legislative District Representative.

Sponsored by Kilmer, the bill is being considered for the first time on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

A companion bill in the Senate was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Michelle Sandoval, Port Townsend City Council and realtor; Senator Patty Murray;Representative Derek Kilmer;Tim McNulty, writer; and Bill Taylor, Taylor Shellfish on the banks of the Big Quilcene River discussing Wild Olympics and the economic and social benefits of protecting the free-flowing rivers and ancient forests of the Olympic Peninsula. Photo by Thomas O’Keefe.

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