The Wild Olympics Coalition today cheered the introduction of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers. If enacted, the legislation would designate the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
“We are thrilled! We’re excited and grateful for Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s leadership in reintroducing Wild Olympics this congress,” said Connie Gallant, chair of the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Coalition. “Their carefully-crafted legislation would permanently protect the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for future generations. It would safeguard critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for our local communities. And it would protect our unmatched quality of life on the Peninsula. We are indebted to Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer for their due diligence, commitment, and hard work in engaging all communities these last several years to move their legislation forward.”
“This is truly landmark legislation for the Olympics’ unprotected wild lands – places like lower Gray Wolf, Jupiter Ridge, South Fork Skokomish and South Quinault Ridge – and visionary in its sweep,” said Tim McNulty, of Sequim, Wild Olympics Coalition member and author of Olympic National Park: A Natural History. “Conservationists have been working for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River protections in the Olympics since the 70s. This bill is a historic step forward in the long story of Olympic conservation.”
The Wild Olympics Campaign enjoys broad local support on the Olympic Peninsula and Hood Canal region. The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act has been endorsed by over 500 local businesses, farms, faith leaders, local elected officials, CEO’s, hunting, fishing, recreation & conservation groups.
Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms, Shelton
“Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s Wild Olympics legislation will help protect our state’s shellfish industry, including hundreds of shellfishing jobs in Hood Canal alone – and many more in related industries like processing, shipping and sales. It protects the rivers and streams vital to the health of our hatcheries and to the health and restoration of Puget Sound. Our oyster beds depend on the clean, cold, silt-free water that drains off Olympic National Forest into Hood Canal. Protecting these watersheds allows our industry to grow, expand and continue to benefit the economy and ecology of Washington State. We are grateful for their leadership.”
James Thomas, President & CEO Thermedia Corp/MasQs – Shelton
“The Wild Olympics legislation would help protect the outstanding way of life that is an important reason people choose to live, work and play here in Mason County with the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains in our backyard. The ancient forests, wild rivers and scenic beauty of the Olympics are the foundation of our high “Quality of Life” that attracts visitors, entrepreneurs, new residents and investment in our communities, strengthening our local economy. In fact, these spectacular public lands were the final determinant when I chose the Olympic Peninsula as the new home for my medical device manufacturing company. Ten years later my heart still sings when I round a corner or top a hill and the Olympics come into view. I applaud Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer for working to protect the Peninsula’s economic future.”
Fred Rakevich – Retired logger and fifty-year veteran of the timber industry, Elma
“I am a retired logger who worked for fifty years in the timber industry. I have also fished and kayaked most of the major rivers in the Olympics. I was born and raised in Grays Harbor, but have traveled half way around the world. In all my travels, nothing impressed me more than the natural beauty of the Olympic Mountain Range and the clear running waters that begin their journey flowing toward the lands below. Timber is and always will be part of the Olympic Peninsula’s proud heritage. But our ancient forests and wild rivers are the natural legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren. Senator Murray and Representative Kilmers bill protects our natural heritage while respecting our timber heritage. I thank them for their thoughtful leadership, and future generations will thank them too.”
Casey Weigel – Owner & Head Guide of Waters West Guide Service in Montesano and a member of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics.
“I am a full-time Professional Guide, and owner of Waters West Guide Service in Montesano, Washington on the beautiful Wynoochee River. Our home waters here also include the Satsop and Humptulips rivers and other Olympic Peninsula rivers and their tributaries. Through hard work and our passion for our rivers and fishing, my wife and I have grown our small business enough to be able to help 3 other year-round and seasonal local guides support families, who love fishing just as much as we do. We fish year round for trophy Salmon, Sturgeon, Steelhead, and Trout in Washington rivers, lakes, and bays. I support the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act because our rivers and our salmon are our lifeblood and, without them, businesses like ours, the local jobs they support, and the dollars they bring into our local economy would dry up. The Wild Olympics proposal would simply make the current safeguards protecting our rivers on Olympic National Forest permanent. That’s all it does. It doesn’t change access or cost timber jobs. And if it did, I wouldn’t support it, because my family works in the timber industry. There are many challenges facing our rivers and salmon, with lots of debate and millions of dollars spent trying to help restore clean water and habitat downstream. But one basic, simple piece of the foundation we can put in place now that won’t cost any of us anything, is to permanently protect the healthy habitat on the federal lands upstream against any misguided attempts to develop them in the future. That’s why I am a proud supporter of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. For Our Future.”
Morgan Colonel – Owner, Olympic Raft and Kayak, Port Angeles
“As an outdoor recreation business owner and an avid outdoorsman, my livelihood and lifestyle depend on clean, free-flowing rivers. I have witnessed first-hand the benefits of wild and scenic rivers designation on local businesses in other parts of the country. Visitors to Olympic National Park and businesses like mine annually contribute $220 million in local economic benefits and support 2,708 jobs. This economic benefit depends on access to the high quality natural resources the Olympic Peninsula is known for and protection of those resources. Visitors from around the world come to experience the place we call home. Protecting these resources is an investment in our region’s economic future, and the smart thing to do.”
Ken Meidell, President & COO, Outdoor Research, WA
“We support Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River protection for the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for future generations. This area is a Washington treasure that provides exceptional outdoor experiences. For our customers seeking unspoiled, backcountry adventures from the high peaks to the deep river valleys harboring old-growth forests, the Wild Olympics is a world-class destination enjoyed by local residents and visitors from around the world. This conservation initiative is also an investment in our region’s economic future. A new study, Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, by Earth Economics demonstrates the importance of outdoor recreation for the Washington State economy. Washington State residents recreate an average of 56 days a year outside and spend money when they do it. Residents and visitors collectively spend $21.6 billion annually on trips and equipment purchases supporting nearly 200,000 jobs.”
Dr. Bill Roof, President and CEO, Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc., Port Townsend
“The Wild Olympics legislation sponsored by Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer would permanently protect the stunning natural treasures that serve as a key tool local companies like Intellicheck can use to recruit talented, highly skilled employees who contribute to the Peninsula’s economy. Our ancient forests, rivers and streams offer priceless natural amenities that make the Northwest a wonderful place to live and give “The Evergreen State” its well-deserved name. These natural resources provide clean water, scenic beauty, solitude, fish and wildlife habitat, world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and an unrivaled quality of life in our region.”
Michelle Sandoval – Port Townsend City Councilor, Port Townsend.
“This legislation will help permanently protect clean drinking water for local Peninsula communities. For example, one of the places proposed for Wilderness protection is in the Big Quilcene watershed, which filters the clean, cold drinking water for the city of Port Townsend. Protecting forests and rivers on federal lands upstream protects our investments in salmon habitat and water quality downstream. We are grateful for Representative Kilmer’s and Senator Murray’s help in protecting Port Townsend’s clean water.”
Harriet Reyenga – Independent realtor for Windermere Real Estate, Port Angeles
“The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act 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. Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and amazing landscapes are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions. We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. The Wild Olympics legislation will do both.”
Dave Bailey – Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA & co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics.
“People think that because our salmon streams on Olympic National Forest appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe. Unfortunately, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. There are determined efforts underway in Congress to roll back current safeguards and open these sensitive spawning streams 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.”