I grew up in Grays Harbor County, but now live in southern Oregon near the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. As a witness to the positive economic benefits of Wild and Scenic Rivers, I would urge the city councils of both Cosmopolis and Hoquiam to consider these benefits before taking any position on the Wild Olympics.
It is undeniable that the Rogue Wild and Scenic designation has highlighted the river and attracted additional visitors and entrepreneurs to the area. Located in rural southwestern Oregon, the Rogue was one of the original eight rivers designated by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The public lands in the area, including the Rogue River, have supported a strong tourism industry for several decades, attracting visitors from across the country and around the world who come to fish, camp, float and hike along this iconic river. A recent economic study found that the river contributes approximately $30 million to the local economy, including approximately 445 full and part time jobs.
While some argue that our rivers are already wild and scenic and do not need any additional protection, one need look no further than the current proposals for new hydropower development on the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers in the Cascades. Many of our most treasured rivers on the Olympic Peninsula have also been identified for their hydropower potential, and developers have actively sought incentives through state and federal legislation to make development of these marginally economic sites possible. Wild and Scenic designation would protect our rivers from such threats and keep them free-flowing for future generations.
The Olympics Peninsula's rivers are some of the most beautiful and productive rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Designating them as Wild and Scenic protects them from dams, enhances access and protects the character that draws both visitors and entrepreneurs to our area. I urge the councils from both Hoquiam and Cosmopolis to take this into account before taking a position on the Wild Olympics.