The Wild Olympics Coalition today cheered the reintroduction of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer 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. Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water, and enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would, if enacted, 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.
The Wild Olympics Coalition also unveiled today over 150 new endorsements from local Olympic Peninsula elected officials and businesses rallying behind the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The new additions bring the total number of local Olympic Peninsula businesses, CEOs, elected officials, farms, faith leaders & sportsmen, and conservation and outdoor recreation groups to more than 700 endorsers, including the mayors of Port Townsend, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores & Elma, among many others. The new endorsements by local Olympic Peninsula business owners, mayors and city council members from all four counties of the Peninsula were collected over the last several months on a sign-on letter addressed to Senator Murray and Rep. Kilmer. More than 12,000 local residents have signed petitions in support.
The new endorsements come after Local Olympic Peninsula Economic Leaders recently announced a new partnership with REI & Patagonia to promote the Wild Olympics Campaign in REI’s flagship store and online to encourage their customers to visit the spectacular Olympic Peninsula. As part of the partnership, local elected officials from the Olympic Peninsula, the Wild Olympics Campaign, outdoor recreation groups, REI, and Patagonia unveiled a new “Destination Wild Olympics” MAP, highlighting some of the great recreation places in the Wild Olympics proposal. The map was designed with extensive input from local Olympic Peninsula business owners, economic development leaders and local elected officials, who announced their support for the initiative, calling it an amazing economic opportunity for the Peninsula.
Bill Taylor, President of Taylor Shellfish Farms, Shelton “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.”
James Thomas, President & CEO Thermedia Corp/MasQs – Shelton “The Wild Olympics legislation would help protect the outstanding way of life that is an important reason people choose to live, work and play here in Mason County with the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains in our backyard. The ancient forests, wild rivers and scenic beauty of the Olympics are the foundation of our high “Quality of Life” that attracts visitors, entrepreneurs, new residents and investment in our communities, strengthening our local economy. In fact, these spectacular public lands were the final determinant when I chose the Olympic Peninsula as the new home for my medical device manufacturing company. Ten years later my heart still sings when I round a corner or top a hill and the Olympics come into view. I applaud Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer for working to protect the Peninsula’s economic future.”
Fred Rakevich – Retired logger and fifty-year veteran of the timber industry, Elma “I am a retired logger who worked for fifty years in the timber industry. I have also fished and kayaked most of the major rivers in the Olympics. I was born and raised in Grays Harbor, but have traveled half way around the world. In all my travels, nothing impressed me more than the natural beauty of the Olympic Mountain Range and the clear running waters that begin their journey flowing toward the lands below. Timber is and always will be part of the Olympic Peninsula’s proud heritage. But our ancient forests and wild rivers are the natural legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren. Senator Murray and Representative Kilmers bill protects our natural heritage while respecting our timber heritage. I thank them for their thoughtful leadership, and future generations will thank them too.”
Casey Weigel – Owner & Head Guide of Waters West Guide Service in Montesano and a member of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics. “I am a full-time Professional Guide, and owner of Waters West Guide Service in Montesano, Washington on the beautiful Wynoochee River. Our home waters here also include the Satsop and Humptulips rivers and other Olympic Peninsula rivers and their tributaries. Through hard work and our passion for our rivers and fishing, my wife and I have grown our small business enough to be able to help 3 other year-round and seasonal local guides support families, who love fishing just as much as we do. We fish year round for trophy Salmon, Sturgeon, Steelhead, and Trout in Washington rivers, lakes, and bays. I support the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act because our rivers and our salmon are our lifeblood and, without them, businesses like ours, the local jobs they support, and the dollars they bring into our local economy would dry up. The Wild Olympics proposal would simply make the current safeguards protecting our rivers on Olympic National Forest permanent. That’s all it does. It doesn’t change access or cost timber jobs. And if it did, I wouldn’t support it, because my family works in the timber industry. There are many challenges facing our rivers and salmon, with lots of debate and millions of dollars spent trying to help restore clean water and habitat downstream. But one basic, simple piece of the foundation we can put in place now that won’t cost any of us anything, is to permanently protect the healthy habitat on the federal lands upstream against any misguided attempts to develop them in the future. That’s why I am a proud supporter of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. For Our Future.”
State Representative Mike Chapman, 24th Legislative District – Port Angeles “I have been very excited about the economic & recreational opportunities Wild Olympics will bring to the Olympic Peninsula. With REI and Patagonia’s support our corner of the world is now attracting visitors from all over. Wild Olympics is our future, for fresh air, clean water, pristine forests and future generations!”
Sarah Muszynski, Owner, Blue Horizons Paddlesports , Lake Cushman “As an outdoor recreation business owner and an avid outdoorsman, my livelihood and lifestyle depend on clean, free-flowing rivers. Visitors to Olympic National Park and businesses like mine annually contribute $220 million in local economic benefits and support 2,708 jobs. This economic benefit depends on access to the high quality natural resources the Olympic Peninsula is known for and protection of those resources. Visitors from around the world come to experience the place we call home. Protecting these resources is an investment in our region’s economic future, and the smart thing to do.”
Dr. Bill Roof, President and CEO, Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc., Port Townsend “The Wild Olympics legislation sponsored by Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer would permanently protect the stunning natural treasures that serve as a key tool local companies like Intellicheck can use to recruit talented, highly skilled employees who contribute to the Peninsula’s economy. Our ancient forests, rivers and streams offer priceless natural amenities that make the Northwest a wonderful place to live and give “The Evergreen State” its well-deserved name. These natural resources provide clean water, scenic beauty, solitude, fish and wildlife habitat, world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and an unrivaled quality of life in our region.”
Michelle Sandoval – Port Townsend City Councilor, Port Townsend “This legislation will help permanently protect clean drinking water for local Peninsula communities. For example, one of the places proposed for Wilderness protection is in the Big Quilcene watershed, which filters the clean, cold drinking water for the city of Port Townsend. Protecting forests and rivers on federal lands upstream protects our investments in salmon habitat and water quality downstream. We are grateful for Representative Kilmer’s and Senator Murray’s help in protecting Port Townsend’s clean water.”
Harriet Reyenga – Independent realtor for Windermere Real Estate, Port Angeles “The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild & Scenic Rivers Act will protect and promote the same spectacular public lands and high quality of life that are helping to drive growth and create local jobs in real estate, construction and many other sectors of our economy today. Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and amazing landscapes are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions. We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. The Wild Olympics legislation will do both.”
Dave Bailey – Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA & co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics. “People think that because our salmon streams on Olympic National Forest appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe. Unfortunately, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. There are determined efforts underway in Congress to roll back current safeguards and open these sensitive spawning streams to small hydropower development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more. That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen. This legislation is critical to preserve what we have.”
Terri Jeffreys, Mason County Commissioner, District 3 – Shelton “This partnership came out of a great process involving local communities, businesses and economic leaders of the Olympic Peninsula. We’ve been at the forefront of diversifying our local economy and promoting our World-Class outdoor recreation and stunning natural beauty. That’s why we call Mason County and Hood Canal the “Wild Side of Washington” – and we know it’s imperative we protect and enhance access to the incredible outdoor adventures offered by our pristine waterways and spectacular public lands. Wild Olympics has been endorsed by over 65 Mason County businesses and local elected officials and counting. I am proud to be one of them. We’re thrilled to launch this new partnership with the Wild Olympics Campaign, REI & Patagonia to protect & promote our spectacular ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and world-class outdoor recreation opportunities. For Our Future.”
Jasmine Dickhoff, Mayor, City of Hoquiam- Hoquiam “I’m from here, I grew up here, and I’m proud to call the Harbor my home. Harborites are hardy, self-reliant, and we often have a different point of view than other communities. We choose to live without all the amenities of big-city life and we do so because we love it here. Hundreds of local Peninsula businesses, sportsmen organizations & local elected officials like myself are backing Wild Olympics because it embraces that same pride – our shared love of the land and our desire to permanently protect the most special parts of our spectacular backyard. However as a local elected official concerned about our economic future, I believe we need to be seizing new economic opportunities while taking great care not to hurt our current ones. That’s why it’s important to me that Representative Kilmer & Senator Murray have worked to ensure their final proposal won’t hurt local timber jobs. It’s also why I believe REI and Patagonia’s promotion of Wild Olympics is a validation of one of our important new economic advantages.
State Representative Steve Tharinger, 24th Legislative District – Sequim “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.”
Marc Berejka, Director of Government & Community Affairs, REI. “The Olympic Peninsula is a Washington treasure that provides exceptional outdoor experiences, and we are grateful for the partnership launched by local Olympic Peninsula Economic Leaders working to protect and promote the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for future generations. For our customers seeking unspoiled, backcountry adventures from the high peaks to the deep river valleys harboring old-growth forests, the Wild Olympics is an iconic destination enjoyed by local residents and visitors from around the world. This initiative is also an investment in our region’s economic future. Washington State residents recreate an average of 56 days a year outside and spend money when they do it. Residents and visitors collectively spend $21.6 billion annually on trips and equipment purchases supporting 200,000 jobs.”
Mark and Desiree’ Dodson, Owners Westport Marina Cottages – Westport: “We’re excited to be a part of the amazing recognition of the Wild Olympics Campaign by REI & Patagonia. We’re one of the hundreds of local Peninsula businesses backing Wild Olympics because it would protect & promote the same priceless natural treasures that are cornerstones of our economy. And now the country’s two most premier outdoor industry brands agree. Our ancient temperate rainforests & wild rivers are iconic one-of-kind outdoor recreation destinations that draw visitors & new residents from around the world. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with the Wild Olympics Campaign, REI & Patagonia to promote the Harbor’s natural treasures to a whole new audience hungry for outdoor adventures!”
Roy Nott, Aberdeen Businessman and CEO. “Growing up in Pacific County in the 50’s and early 60’s, my future career path was pretty clear. I knew I would work in the timber industry. It was a no-brainer for me. The woods was where my childhood friends and I also chose to spend most of our free time. To advance your career often requires moves, and eventually my family and I were asked to move to the south and the northeast. It was all very interesting but we missed our family and friends and the forests back home. So, in 1993, I returned with a much greater appreciation for the Olympic Peninsula’s remaining virgin forests. Not just as a draw for tourists but also a residential draw for forest-lovers like myself and my family. That is also why I chose to be an early advocate for new Wild Olympics legislation.
The world has changed so much over my lifetime. I now live in Aberdeen but I am the President of a German-owned companyin the wood products industry. Rapid advancements in manufacturing and technology permit companies to collaborate globally today to make more valuable composite wood products from far younger, faster-growth trees. These technologies require us to be smarter and more globally and market-minded but they permit us- for the first time in our history- to have it both ways: to have a strong forest products sector along with legal protections for the remaining, virgin forests that have always provided our fantastic living and vacationing environment. This is my life story and these are my opinions. That is why I am so pleased to see REI and Patagonia recently take up the Wild Olympics cause. It is great to see your most deeply-held beliefs become validated as you get older.”
Douglas Scott, Owner of Exotic Hikes and The Outdoor Society, Hood Canal: “Outside my door, the river, forests and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula beckon me to hike and climb. In the Northwest corner of the contiguous United States, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, our glacial-fed rivers, full of salmon and surrounded by majestic eagles constantly inspire millions of locals and visitors to the region. Each year, over four million outdoor recreation enthusiasts head to the region, hoping to find a slice of natural beauty in pristine forests and impossibly gorgeous river valleys. As an author, tour guide and advocate for the Olympic Peninsula, I have witnessed the importance of nature and outdoor recreation in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the support outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life, passing the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will help ensure that even more of the stunning scenery will be protected and accessible for all. bI am proud to Support the Wild Olympics. Come visit and fall in love with the beauty of rainforests, wild rivers and breathtaking adventures and you will too.