On Thursday, July 14, the Wild Olympics Coalition cheered a major bi-partisan vote in congress, which helped advance public lands legislation, including the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), passed with a number of other public land bills as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Wild Olympics legislation was passed by the House earlier this congress and had a hearing and mark-up in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The NDAA is “must-pass” legislation, and therefore 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.
If passed in the senate, 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. 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 four decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
To date, over 800 local businesses, hunting & fishing organizations, Tribes, and elected officials endorse the Wild Olympics Wilderness and wild & Scenic Rivers Act.