Diverse Group Invites More in Community to “Join the Conversation”

(Quilcene, WA.) A Peninsula sportsman, mayor, and business leader are appearing in print ads sponsored by the Wild Olympics Campaign to encourage the community to join the conversation over a draft proposal to protect key forest and river watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula. The ads, which begin this week in several area papers, feature local residents explaining why they believe the proposal is the best way to safeguard our wild forests and rivers for the clean water, recreation and salmon we need.

For businessman Bill Taylor, vice president of Taylor Shellfish, it’s about jobs. “Hood Canal is home to the two largest hatcheries that supply seed to the West Coast shellfish industry—which directly supports more than 150 local jobs and many more in related industries such as processing, sales and shipping,” he says in his ad. “By protecting Olympic Peninsula forest and river watersheds, we ensure clean and safe water so that shellfish companies can continue to grow and benefit the economy and ecology of Washington State.”

Port Townsend Mayor Michelle Sandoval lists the economy and clean water as reasons she supports the proposal. “The Port Townsend residents I serve get their drinking water from the Big Quilcene watershed,” she explains. “This intact wild forest and river watershed is both a natural filter for our water and a majestic outdoor recreation destination that attracts visitors and bolsters our local economy.”

Dave Bailey, past president of the Greywolf Fly Fishing Club, wants to ensure that “our children and grandchildren will be able to experience these outstanding waterways at their best.” He says in his ad, “As a local fisherman, I understand the importance of preserving healthy fish stocks on the Olympic Peninsula. … Sadly, what once was the salmon capital of the world can barely support sport and commercial activity today. But our wild salmon and steelhead stocks can recover if we protect and restore their habitat – through new wilderness, wild and scenic river and willing-seller Olympic Park/Preserve additions.”

“These three Peninsula leaders represent the broad and diverse support among local residents who believe now is the time to find common ground to protect our watersheds,” says Connie Gallant of Quilcene, who chairs the Wild Olympics Campaign. “This is a ground-up effort to keep our fishhealthy, and the local economy afloat–and our clean water, salmon habitat, World-Class outdoor recreation and our outstanding Peninsula way of life. This campaign is all about the community coming together to talk and listen, and then move forward.”

To date, the Wild Olympics Campaign has collected over 4,300 letters, postcards and petition signatures from supporters in all four counties of the Peninsula. The Campaign has been endorsed by over 135 Peninsula businesses, 10 current or former local elected officials, and a broad range of different religious leaders, fishing interests and conservation groups.

The current discussion draft of the Wild Olympics Campaign proposal would protect more than 134,000 additional acres of wilderness for key upper watersheds on Olympic National Forest including: South Quinault Ridge, Jupiter Ridge, and Dirty Face Ridge. Wilderness designation would prohibit new logging or road building, but would allow a wide range of back country recreation such as hunting and fishing.

Also proposed are long overdue Wild and Scenic River protections on federal and state lands for many of the Olympic Peninsula’s iconic free-flowing rivers, including the federally owned reaches of Sol Duc, Bogachiel, South Fork Skokomish, Hamma Hamma and Dungeness. The designation would prevent dams from ever being built on those stretches of rivers while protecting fishing, swimming, paddling, boating, rafting and other recreational use.

In addition, the current draft proposes 37,000 acres of willing-seller Olympic National Park or Preserve expansion for sensitive watersheds such as lands above Lake Crescent and around Lake Ozette. The willing-seller mechanism would provide an option to bring these lands into public ownership if timber companies ever decide to remove them from the timber base.

The ads are slated to run in the Peninsula Daily News, Port Townsend Leader, and Kitsap Sun.

The Wild Olympics Campaign is made up of conservation and recreation organizations including the Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Park Associates, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, and the North Olympic Group Sierra Club.

“Over the past two years and more than 300 meetings with local stakeholders around the Peninsula, , we have made changes to the draft proposal, to address competing concerns and needs of the community,” says Gallant. “And these discussions are ongoing. Extensive community input is tailor-making the plan for different local economic, access, and recreation needs. We hope more folks will see the ads and join thousands of other peninsula residents already participating in the conversation by visiting www.wildolympics.org.”