Wild Olympics passed out of House as part of National Defense bill

The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Wild Olympics) has moved forward once again, attached to a larger bill.

On July 14, the Wild Olympics bill passed the U.S. House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act Year 2023 on a bipartisan vote in Congress.

The defense bill features a number of other public land bills and other items, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 that features the local legislation.

Sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer, the Wild Olympics bill has been attached to other larger measures over the years, but has failed to gain full passage through the legislature.

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. 

Sponsors say that the bill was designed through “extensive community input” to protect forests and clean water and enhance outdoor recreation, and 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.

The National Defense Authorization Act issues appropriations for military activities and programs of the Department of Defense, but also includes numerous actions such as the protection of lands that are written into the Wild Olympics plan.

A similar legislative strategy to package the plan with another bill was used in 2014 and in the years since.

In Washington, once again only Democrat Pramiya Jayapal voted no on the bill overall.