Let's keep this win-win and not lose-lose. I have been watching the back and forth arguments about the Wild Olympics campaign with interest and concern. It is troubling that the subject has become so polarizing and the argument so divisive.

I do not see this as an attack on the values of free enterprise, as environmentalists ruining the logging industry, as a bunch of elitists trying to force people from rural to urban habitation, as a replay of the Bolt decision, another spotted owl thing or a land grab.

The last thing it should be is a fight between the fishing and logging industry.

It is about protecting our watersheds; water quality, fishing, hunting, recreation and forest conservation. Protection of critical natural resources for both environmental and economic benefit for all is what this should be about.

The proposal protects our water and watersheds. The watersheds in the Olympic National Forest are critical to the survival and growth of native salmon populations and wildlife habitat. It also creates new wilderness areas that would provide permanent protection for areas that are for the most part already out of the timber base under current regulations.

The Wild and Scenic River designations are only for contiguous stretches of rivers on federal and state lands. This designation would prevent the construction of dams while allowing all recreation and sports use.

There are serious questions and concerns to address. There are benefits and impacts to both sides. It should not be a win or lose issue. If it continues to be that, neither side wins and we miss an opportunity to move ahead and properly deal with the issues that are important to the future of the greater area and economy.

The timber industry will continue to be an important part of our greater economy as will the fishing industry. Both will play a part and are important elements. Neither will be the dominant players that they once were. There are, understandingly, hard feelings about the history of the forest and fishing industry here. The local economy was devastated by events driven by government actions, environmental challenges and legal decisions that have occurred over many years.

We are where we are.

More importantly, we are not in a bad place, though we keep getting good and bad news. One mill reopens, another closes, another example that that industry will only play a marginal, though still important role.

Our future is the port and our strategic location and nearness to the I-5 corridor. We have the pontoon project, and we are shipping cars and grain oversees. We have the infrastructure and available commercial property in Grays Harbor to grow into a diverse and better economy based on today's opportunities and future technology. New technology industries are critical to a more diverse and sustainable economy. Our own traditional forest products industry is moving in that new direction. Local companies such as Panel Tech, Cosmo Fibers and New Wood are leading the way.

Another important economic element is tourism. The Olympic Peninsula and our coast is a visitor draw. Outdoor activities are a growing industry, whether it is fishing, clam digging, crabbing, hunting, camping, hiking, trail bike riding, river rafting, bird watching, beachcombing or sightseeing. People come to enjoy what we have. The Wild Olympics proposal helps grow that economic potential.

We all care about the Grays Harbor community and economy. Protecting our forests, watersheds and jobs is important. Our environmental quality of life; clean air, outdoor recreation, wildlife and scenic beauty are not just the things that those of us who live here appreciate, but they are the things that are important in attracting new technology businesses and the kind of people who run and work in them.

Let's put emotion aside, politics aside and history aside. Let's look at this in the context of today, and more importantly, tomorrow. The discussion and debate needs to continue, but it needs to be rational, respectful and considerate and it must focus on mutually advantageous solutions.

Garland French is the mayor of Ocean Shores.