Wild Olympics bill reintroduced for 2023

The Wild Olympics proposal has been reintroduced for consideration at the federal level. 

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Senator Patty Murray (WA) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The legislation would permanently protect salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for local communities, while also protecting and expanding recreation opportunities like hiking, camping, boating, hunting, and fishing, without closing any roads according to officials. 

“As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned firsthand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud to reintroduce this practical, balanced strategy, that will protect the wildest and most pristine places on the Olympic Peninsula while ensuring we can keep and grow jobs in our natural resource industries and other sectors. And I’m grateful for the years-long collaboration to create a proposal that works for folks across the community – including Tribes, sportsmen, conservation groups, timber communities, business leaders, shellfish growers, and everyone in between.”

 “I’m proud to have worked with Congressman Kilmer – not to mention Tribes, sportsmen, advocates, local business leaders, and so many others – for years on our bill to protect the Wild Olympics, one of our state’s most beautiful natural treasures, and I am thrilled to be reintroducing it today,” said Sen. Murray. “Our Wild Olympics bill will permanently protect over a hundred and twenty thousand acres of forest and hundreds of miles of critical salmon habitat – preserving outdoor recreation and these breathtaking natural spaces for generations to come, all while strengthening local economies and protecting local industries. I look forward to working with Congressman Kilmer to keep up the momentum behind this important legislation and continuing our fight to protect and preserve the Wild Olympics.”

The Wild Olympics legislation would 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. 

Said to be designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests and salmon streams and enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would designate the first new wilderness in the Olympic National Forest in nearly four decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

First introduced in 2012 as the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012, the proposed legislation has been adjusted in a number of ways to mixed local community reaction.

The legislation was reintroduced in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021, with the current reiteration continuing the goals first set out by Sen. Murray and Representative Norm Dicks.

In a release, Representative Kilmer and Senator Murray say that they worked extensively with local and regional timber interests to remove any currently viable timber base from the proposal to ensure the legislation would have no impact on existing timber jobs, as confirmed in a 2012 Timber Impact Study.