Late last week, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), passed once again through the House of Representatives.
The passage came along with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
In Washington, only Democrat Pramiya Jayapal voted no on the bill overall.
The National Defense Authorization Act issues appropriations for military activities and programs of the Department of Defense, but also includes numerous other actions such as the protection of lands that are written into the Wild Olympics plan.
Supporters of the bill cheered it’s passage, saying that this movement forward is one step closer to permanently protecting 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.
“As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned first-hand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand-in-hand,” said Representative Kilmer. “Adding this practical, balanced strategy to today’s bill will help us protect some of the most environmentally sensitive places on the Peninsula. It will also ensure we can keep and grow jobs in our natural resource industries and other sectors. I am 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.”
“Wild Olympics has brought Washington state families and communities from all walks of life together to protect beautiful outdoor spaces we all love, and I’m excited to see this bill continue to earn bipartisan support,” said Senator Murray. “It’s thanks to the support and input from Tribes, local residents, businesses, shellfish growers, sportsmen, faith leaders, conservation groups, and so many others that this bill and this effort have come so close to making it over the finish line—we’ve managed to build as broad of a coalition as possible to get this done. I’m glad Representative Kilmer is making steady progress on this in the House, and I’m going to keep working in the Senate to keep up this momentum and ensure that we’re able to preserve these wild and scenic spaces on the Olympic Peninsula for current and future generations.”
Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests and clean water and enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would designate the first new wilderness in the Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Wild Olympics legislation was passed by the House earlier this Spring.
The NDAA offers another opportunity to advance the bill in both Houses of congress.
A similar legislative strategy was used in 2014 by Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representatives Reichert and DelBene to attach legislation to expand Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Alpine Lakes and Ilabott Creek, the last major wilderness & wild and scenic bills for WA, which were passed in the 2014 NDAA.