June 5, 2015 PT Leader
The Wild Olympics Coalition are cheering the introduction of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by U.S. Senator Patty Murray and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer, according to a press release sent from from the Wild Olympics Campaign in Quilcene.
This act permanently protects 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. If enacted, the legislation would designate the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades, and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
“We are thrilled! We’re excited and grateful for Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s leadership in reintroducing Wild Olympics this congress,” Connie Gallant, chair of the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Coalition, said in a press release. “Their carefully-crafted legislation would permanently protect the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for future generations. It would safeguard critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for our local communities. And it would protect our unmatched quality of life on the Peninsula. We are indebted to Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer for their due diligence, commitment, and hard work in engaging all communities these last several years to move their legislation forward.”
“This is truly landmark legislation for the Olympics’ unprotected wild lands – places like lower Gray Wolf, Jupiter Ridge, South Fork Skokomish and South Quinault Ridge – and visionary in its sweep,” said Tim McNulty, of Sequim, Wild Olympics Coalition member and author of “Olympic National Park: A Natural History.”
“Conservationists have been working for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River protections in the Olympics since the 70s. This bill is a historic step forward in the long story of Olympic conservation.”
The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has been endorsed by 500 local businesses, farms, faith leaders, local elected officials, CEO’s, hunting, fishing, recreation and conservation groups.
“Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s Wild Olympics legislation will help protect our state’s shellfish industry, including hundreds of shellfishing jobs in Hood Canal alone – and many more in related industries like processing, shipping and sales. It protects the rivers and streams vital to the health of our hatcheries and to the health and restoration of Puget Sound. Our oyster beds depend on the clean, cold, silt-free water that drains off Olympic National Forest into Hood Canal. Protecting these watersheds allows our industry to grow, expand and continue to benefit the economy and ecology of Washington State. We are grateful for their leadership,” said Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms, Shelton.