Today, by a bipartisan vote of 227-200, the House of Representatives passed the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 999). The bill is part of a package of public land protection bills called Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (PAW Act).
Introduced by Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06), the Wild Olympics and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of public land as Wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries 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, “I’m proud to see the House pass this practical, balanced strategy, that will protect the wildest and most pristine places on the Peninsula while ensuring 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.”
Supporters of the Wild Olympics Campaign celebrated when the legislation passed the House of Representatives in July 2020 with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The public land bills were then considered in House-Senate negotiations at the end of 2020 but did not pass.
Wild Olympics was re-introduced to the new Congress by Kilmer and Murray just two weeks ago. The early passage in the new congressional session marks strong momentum for the legislation.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray will introduce a companion bill in the Senate in the following weeks.
“I’m thrilled to see the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild Scenic Rivers pass the House this week—an important step in ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the Olympic Peninsula’s vital resources and beauty,” said Senator Murray. “I applaud Representative Kilmer, local tribes, community leaders, sportsmen, and countless Olympic Peninsula residents for their tireless efforts to get to this point, and I am committed to keeping up the fight in the Senate to ensure this critical legislation becomes law and our prized and pristine wilderness is protected.”
The Wild Olympics Campaign is building support for permanent protection for the Olympic Peninsula’s remaining wild places. After three years of extensive public process, stakeholder input, and addressed issues, Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act on June 21, 2012. In 2019, the legislation was reintroduced into Congress by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Derek Kilmer. In July 2020, the legislation passed the House of Representatives with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, but it failed to clear House-Senate negotiations in the fall later that year. Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer re-introduced the bill to the new Congress in February 2021. If passed, the bill would designate the first new Wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest in three decades and the first-ever Wild & Scenic River designations. To learn more about the campaign, visit the Wild Olympics Campaign website at wildolympics.org.