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Wild Olympics Bill introduced in Congress by Murray, Dicks
Updated Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Hoquiam) introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012 in the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, June 21.
The bill is a trimmed down version of the original Wild Olympics proposal, with a call to add private lands to the Olympic National Park eliminated.
Mayor Bryon Monohon said the he and his staff are waiting to see what is in the new bill before taking a stand for or against it.
“We want to see what the legislation looks like,” he said during a time for public comments held prior to the beginning of the City Council meeting held Monday evening, June 25. “We’ll have a position on that at some point from city staff.”
A joint press release touts the bill as “legislation (that) would protect several key forest areas and rivers while preserving local jobs and access to outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Murray and Dicks are calling the legislation a “compromise proposal.”
The Wild Olympics proposal has received opposition in Forks, Quinault, Aberdeen, Hoquiam and other towns around the Olympic Peninsula where logging is a main industry.
Well-attended public meetings focused on the Wild Olympics held in Olympic Peninsula towns, with opponents of the plan, and proponents clashing on the issue.
The Forks Chamber of Commerce has issued a public statement opposing the Wild Olympics plan as originally proposed. The Port of Port Angeles produced an economic impact study of the Wild Olympics plan which said that tourism jobs generated by adding additional wilderness to the Olympic National Forest, and additional lands to Olympic National Park, would fail to equate to the loss in timber industry jobs.
Large signs posted in opposition to the plan can be seen in yards and along highways across the West End, and south along Highway 101 to Aberdeen, and west into Port Angeles. Opponents claim between about 125 to 200 timber industry jobs will be lost if the legislation is implemented.
However, those comments and the posting of the signs happened prior to the introduction of the legislation by Murray and Dicks.
The initial plan was proposed by environmental organizations. They are listed at www.wildolympics.com and include the Sierra Club, the Olympic Park Associates, the Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, North Olympic Group — Sierra Club, Washington Wilderness Coalition, The Mountaineers, Campaign for America’s Wilderness, Pew Environment Group, American Rivers and American Whitewater.
Since then some Olympic Peninsula business have come out in support of the plan.
In the press release Murray said of the Wild Olympics plan, “The amazing natural treasures in the Olympic Peninsula are among the crown jewels of our state, and the Wild Olympics proposal will build on the strong foundation of conservation that has been laid down over generations. I was proud to work closely with Representative Dicks and the local community for over two years to arrive at the compromise proposal we are introducing today. Passing the Wild Olympics bill will be a huge victory for the Olympic Peninsula and Washington state, and I am going to fight hard to get that done.”
Some opponents of the Wild Olympics proposal voice their opposition on the website www.workingwildolympics.com. On the organization’s Facebook page it appears the group is continuing to oppose the plan as it appears as a congressional bill.
Details of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012 bill provided by Murray’s office includes these points:
- Designates 126,554 acres of new wilderness on Olympic National Forest.
- An additional 5,346 acres of wilderness could be designated by future administrations.
- Designates 19 rivers and 7 tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
- Preserves and enhances existing recreational access on the Olympic National Forest for future generations.
- Protects drinking water and safeguards fisheries through conservation of critical watersheds.
- Adds national recognition to the Peninsula’s outstanding scenery and enhances an already strong tourism industry.
- Common sense approach to conservation and job protection.