We are excited to share with you that on Wednesday, February 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act! Thank you to Representative Derek Kilmer (WA06) who introduced the legislation in the House and Senator Patty Murray who is the sponsor in the Senate. This is a big victory for salmon recovery, growing local jobs and the economy, and safeguarding clean water.
The bill protects the first new Wilderness designations (more than 126,000 acres) in the Olympic National Forest in nearly 30 years and the first-ever Wild and Scenic River designations (for 19 rivers and their tributaries constituting more than 460 miles of river) on the Olympic Peninsula. The legislation provides permanent safeguards for the Peninsula’s most priceless natural treasures; our towering ancient forests, free-flowing rivers, critical fish and wildlife habitat, and our clean water.
As a founding member of the Wild Olympics Campaign, Washington Wild and local conservation groups on the Olympic Peninsula have been working with neighbors in every single community on the Peninsula to build support from diverse local voices, listen to concerns, and get feedback to shape the proposal. More than 12,000 Peninsula residents have written letters or signed our petition, and more than 800 Peninsula & Hood Canal area-businesses, farms, faith leaders, sportsmen groups, elected officials, conservation, outdoor recreation, and civic groups have endorsed Wild Olympics.
What People Are Saying About Wild Olympics Passing the U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA06)
“As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned first-hand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand-in-hand, 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.”
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
“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. 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.”
Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz
“I am proud to support Representative Kilmer’s Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This landmark legislation protects rare wilderness that has been treasured for centuries, while ensuring that natural resource jobs will continue to support Washington’s rural communities.”
State Representative Steve Tharinger, 24th Legislative District.
“It is easy to see and understand the ecological value of the Wild Olympics idea, conserving clean and free flowing rivers, but what is sometimes missed is the economic value that maintaining places like Wild Olympics brings by attracting people to the special outdoors of the Olympic region. I want to thank REI and Patagonia for engaging local community leaders like myself to help design the map, and for recognizing that encouraging people to get out and enjoy the special places in the Wild Olympics proposal brings economic benefits to the communities I represent.”
Aberdeen Forest Products Consultant & Former Timber CEO Roy Nott
“My own experience as a CEO and Entrepreneur is that our area’s natural treasures- which provide world-class outdoor recreation, clean water and our area’s high quality of living- are what give us a competitive edge over other regions in attracting and retaining the talented people new companies require. Wilderness and wild and scenic river protections would help protect and grow the local jobs that depend on our ability to compete for talent against other regions, and they would enhance our recruitment efforts as we work to grow new businesses in the future. And as a former Timber Industry Executive, I appreciate that Senator Murray and Rep Kilmer’s final compromise proposal was scaled-back to ensure it would not impact current timber jobs.”
Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms
“Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer’s Wild Olympics legislation will help protect our state’s shellfish industry, including hundreds of shell fishing 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.”
Ashley Nichole Lewis, Bad Ash Fishing Guide Service in Tahola
“Conservation for me on the Olympic Peninsula means that the next generation and generations to come can come out here and experience the way that I experience it and the way my grandpa experienced it when he fished out here and that forever we always have this – what is wild and what is the Olympic Peninsula and our culture today.”