(Quilcene, WA) The Wild Olympics Campaign today acknowledged disappointment with the decision by Congressman Norm Dicks and Senator Patty Murray to drop the willing-seller National Preserve addition piece of their proposal, but said they understand and accept the change. The Coalition stated they continue to enthusiastically back the modified Congressional plan which retains Olympic National Forest wilderness additions and new Wild and Scenic River designations for the Peninsula.
"While we are extremely disappointed by this development, we understand and accept it," said Connie Gallant, chair of the Wild Olympics Campaign. "When we began the Wild Olympics outreach process more than three years ago, our goal was to create a plan to provide the strongest possible protection for peninsula watersheds that was also tailor-made to accommodate the diverse needs of the local communities. Paramount to the success of the process was a commitment to extensive and exhaustive community input," she said.
"In reaching out to the timber landowners, we had substantive conversations and worked in good faith together to try and resolve our differences over the draft proposal. Unfortunately, despite significant efforts on both sides to try and find common ground, our differences around the park additions proposal proved to be challenging. Senator Murray and Congressman Dicks opted for a pathway forward that did not include the potential additions to the Park. And, as we supported the process, we now support the results," Gallant said.
"We want to publicly thank Merrill & Ring Vice President Norm Schaaf, who graciously threw his support behind the revised Wild Olympics proposal after the congressional offices announced the Park additions were removed. Mr. Schaaf's gesture of goodwill honors the spirit of the inclusive process behind the Wild Olympics."
"Even without the Park addition component, the current proposal remains a major milestone in the history of Peninsula conservation. The Congressional offices have remained steadfast in their support for permanent protections for more than 130,000 acres of Olympic National Forest wilderness and more than 19 new Wild and Scenic Rivers--including their major tributaries. These protections are critical to the long-term protection of key watersheds on the Peninsula," said Gallant.
"We are extremely grateful that Congressman Dicks and Senator Murray and their staff conducted this process in a completely transparent and inclusive manner, inviting community input at every juncture, revising their proposal to address concerns, and building support through collaboration and compromise," Gallant continued. "Although the new plan is not everything we were hoping for, we are 100 percent supportive of the very important Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River protections that remain in the proposal, and commend the leadership of Murray and Dicks on this critical issue. Their plan provides durable and permanent safeguards for the Peninsula's most priceless natural treasures: our towering ancient forests, free-flowing rivers, critical fish and wildlife habitat, and our clean water."
For more information, visit: www.wildolympics.org