Wild Olympics plans added to National Defense Act; could pass alongside military spending

The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act could pass as part of another bill.

On Tuesday, the House of Representattives passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 295 – 125.

The bill would authorize budget appropriations and set forth policies for Department of Defense programs and activities. This includes funding allocations for military weapons and personnel, but an amendment to the bill also included a wide swath of land acts that include Wild Olympics, which passed the House in February, .

Adding the land actions to another bill was done to seek approval in this current legislative session, similar to how Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representatives Reichert and DelBene attached legislation in 2014 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.

The “William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021”authorizes appropriations to DOD for

  • Procurement, including aircraft, weapons and tracked combat vehicles, shipbuilding and conversion, and missiles;
  • Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation;
  • Operation and Maintenance;
  • Working Capital Funds;
  • Chemical Agents and Munitions Destruction;
  • Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities;
  • the Defense Inspector General;
  • the National Defense Sealift Fund;
  • the Defense Health Program;
  • the Armed Forces Retirement Home;
  • the Space Force;
  • Overseas Contingency Operations; and
  • Military Construction.

The bill also authorizes the FY2021 personnel strengths for active duty and reserve forces and sets forth policies regarding

  • military personnel;
  • acquisition policy and management;
  • international programs;
  • National Guard and Reserve Force facilities;
  • compensation and other personnel benefits;
  • health care;
  • matters relating to COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019);
  • DOD organization and management;
  • civilian personnel matters;
  • matters relating to foreign nations; and
  • strategic programs, cyber, and intelligence matters.

The bill authorizes appropriations for base realignment and closure activities, and maritime matters.

The bill authorizes appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Energy national security programs, including the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The bill also sets forth policies regarding certain federal activities related to artificial intelligence, including implementation by the President of a National Artificial Intelligence Initiative to support research and development, education, and training programs.

Following passage in the house, the bill now moves onto the Senate where it will be debated and modified before coming to a vote.

Wild Olympics supporters spoke out applauding the action by the house that helped advance the various public lands and rivers legislation forward as part of the bill.

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.

This 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.