Frequently Asked Questions
1. QUESTION: What is a Wilderness Designation?
ANSWER: Wilderness is the strongest level of protection on federal lands and a designation requires an Act of Congress (legislation) and the president’s signature. Only federal lands can be designated as wilderness (not private or state lands) and the designation generally prohibits motorized and mechanized use, logging, mining and other development. Many activities are consistent and allowed within designated National Forest wilderness areas, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, dog walking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, picnicking, backpacking, bird watching, taking wildflower walks, riding horses, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, spelunking or rock-climbing, conducting ecological or scientific research, and leading educational trips. Today, designated wilderness areas exist in 44 of the 50 states, preserving important habitat for wildlife, providing clean air and water for local communities and a natural legacy for future generations.
2. QUESTION: What is a Wild and Scenic River Designation?
ANSWER: A Wild and Scenic River designation protects a river’s “outstandingly remarkable” values (i.e., wildlife, recreation, fisheries, cultural) and free-flowing character. The designation prohibits federally licensed dams and other harmful water projects. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed in 1968 to protect our nation’s last, best free-flowing rivers. Rivers are generally added to the Act of Congress (i.e., legislation) that is then signed into law by the president (similar to Wilderness). The Wild Olympics Campaign is only proposing Wild and Scenic River designation for contiguous stretches of rivers on federal and state lands. No private lands would be included unless the landowner wanted the designation.
3. QUESTION: Isn’t Wild Olympics unnecessary because the ancient forests and rivers in the proposal are already protected under other federal laws and regulations?
ANSWER: Current administrative safeguards for forests & rivers (including the northwest forest plan, the roadless rule and the current forest management plan) are only temporary and can change under each new President. Wild Olympics provides durable, permanent congressionally-designated protection for our ancient forests and wild rivers.
4. QUESTION: Isn’t Wild Olympics is a Job Killer that will kill hundreds of timber jobs on the peninsula by prohibiting logging on the Olympic National Forest?
ANSWER: No. Wild Olympics won’t impact timber jobs because it protects almost exclusively areas already off limits to logging under current national forest management rules. It simply makes existing safeguards permanent, so no timber jobs will be lost.
5. QUESTION: Is Wild Olympics a federal land grab that will close roads and cut off recreational access to our public lands?
ANSWER: No. Wild Olympics has been carefully designed through years of community input to ensure access won’t be affected. No roads will be closed by the Proposed Wilderness, trails can be maintained and existing uses of the rivers and forests will be protected. In fact, Wild and Scenic designation typically requires the Forest Service to protect fish AND recreational access, whereas right now they are only required to protect fish.
6. QUESTION: Isn’t Wild Olympics unnecessary because the old growth isn’t threatened and there are no local mills that can even mill logs that big anyway.
ANSWER: The Forest Service is weakening old-growth protections on two other national forest in WA right now, (The Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville), and there are some mills in the region that can still handle large trees.
7. QUESTION: Are our rivers really threatened by dams?
ANSWER: The stretches of rivers proposed for Wild and Scenic are the steepest and most attractive candidates for hydro development. A May 2012 front page article in the Seattle Times described how Snohomish county PUD is proposing a hydro project on the Skykomish river, a river that like the rivers on the Peninsula, was recommended for Wild and Scenic by the Forest Service twenty years ago. Because it never received full congressionally-designated Wild and Scenic protection, it is now threatened.