Introduction cheered by more than 800 local Olympic Peninsula & Hood Canal region endorsements; 12,000 local residents have signed petitions of support
(QUILCENE, Wash) – Ahead of Earth Day, this week U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, legislation to 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.
The legislation—which was designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water, and salmon streams and enhance outdoor recreation—would set aside 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. The Wild Olympics legislation has made steady progress each successive Congress since its original introduction; last Congress, the legislation passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support and advanced farther than ever in the U.S. Senate.
“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 Senator 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.”
“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.”
The bill’s introduction comes after a recent wave of support and new local endorsements, bringing the total number of local Olympic Peninsula & Hood Canal region endorsements to more than 800, including the Quinault, Quileute, Elwha and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribes; over 30 local sportsmen organizations and fishing guides; the mayors of Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Ocean Shores and other local elected officials; businesses and CEOs; farms and faith leaders; conservation and outdoor recreation groups; and many others. More than 12,000 local residents have also signed petitions in support.
The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has been carefully crafted through extensive community input to ensure the proposal will have no impact on existing timber jobs. It would permanently protect critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for local communities, while also protecting and expanding world-class outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, camping, boating, hunting, and fishing without closing any roads.