The measure, similar to that introduced by Senator Murray and former Congressman Norm Dicks, would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of forest on the Olympic National Forest as Wilderness and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their major tributaries as Wild and Scenic.
Senator Patty Murray said, “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.
In an official release from the Wild Olympics campaign, Roy Nott said “Safeguarding our natural environment is a key to providing steady and sustainable income to our rural economies”.
In response, Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council, issued a statement saying, “Our industry remains opposed to the Wild Olympics Wilderness legislation because it would put an additional 125,000 acres of the Olympic National Forest off-limits to responsible timber management and other activities.”
Partin added, “Our industry is enjoying strong markets for forest products and would love to create more family-wage jobs and economic activity in these hard-hit communities if we could access additional raw material.”
First introduced in June of 2012 following years of discussion, the measure would expand the wilderness area in the Olympic National Forest, creating a buffer around Olympic National Park.
According to the Wild Olympics campaign, they have received majority support from the Ocean Shores and Westport City Councils.
The Grays Harbor County Commissioners, Aberdeen City Council, and Cosmopolis City Council have all previously voted in opposition to the legislation.
The Hoquiam City Council previously voted saying they opposed the legislation as it was, but said they were willing to consider a revised plan.
According to Senator Patty Murry, based on additional public input, several changes have been made to the legislation to address concerns and strengthen sections about private landowners’ rights.