The Wild Olympics Campaign has been working for more than four years to craft a carefully balanced and comprehensive conservation proposal that will protect watersheds and recreation on the Olympic Peninsula through wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations. The Campaign started with a draft potential area map highlighting 160,000 acres of wilderness, 64,000 acres of willing seller park additions and more than 550 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Campaign and Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks' offices reached out to local stakeholders from 2009 to 2012 . Feedback from these meetings has resulted in adjustments to the proposal which as introduced into the U.S. Congress includes 126,500 acres of proposed Wilderness and 461 miles of proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers.
West Fork Humptulips Thin Sale Exclusion (Grays Harbor County)
In response to concerns raised by Grays Harbor County Commissioners and the Forest Service, all cutting units identified in the Olympic National Forest’s West Fork Humptulips Thin sale were excluded to ensure that the proposed wilderness designations would not conflict with that activity. While there are a few cutting units within the quarter mile boundary of the proposed Wild and Scenic River designation for the East Fork Humptulips River, because that river has been determined “eligible” by the Forest Service it is already being managed as it would after designation with respect to the sale. In summary, the proposal will have no impact on the sale, a conclusion consistent with the Forest Service environmental analysis for this project.
East Fork Humptulips Thin Sale Exclusion (Grays Harbor County)
In response to concerns raised by local stakeholders and the Olympic National Forest, all proposed thinning units identified in the proposed East Fork Humptulips thin sale were excluded from the Proposed Wilderness to ensure that the proposed wilderness area would not conflict with that activity.
Sitkum Thin Sale Exclusion (Jefferson County)
In response to concerns raised by local timber interests and the Olympic National Forest, all units identified in the preferred alternative of the Sitkum Thin were excluded from the proposed wilderness designation in the Elke-Reade area and along the South Fork Calawah River
Salal Permit Area
In response to concerns raised by the Olympic National Forest, nearly 4,000 acres within designated salal gathering permit areas were excluded from the proposed wilderness, including approximately 3,000 acres within the Big Creek Permit Area and approximately 700 acres within the Walker Permit Area. The concerns were related to the compatibility of this commercial activity with a wilderness designation.
In response to concerns over impacts to the Olympic National Forest timber base by local timber interests and the Olympic National Forest, the majority of previously logged parcels that could be reasonably ground-based or helicopter logged have been excluded from the Proposed Wilderness.
Quinault Water Tower
In response to requests from Quinault municipal water authorities regarding the municipal water tower near the Wright Canyon Road, the structure and existing access to it was excluded from the Proposed Wilderness.
Communications Tower (Grays Harbor County)
In response to concerns raised by Tribes and community leaders in Grays Harbor County, two communication towers (repeater sites) have been excluded from the proposed wilderness to ensure that access and maintenance of those facilities will remain unchanged.
Tribal and Forest Service Administrative Access to the “Undi” Road
In response to concerns raised by certain Tribes and the Olympic National Forest about ongoing mechanized needs for hunting and fishing access and resource management, the gated Forest Service road #2932 (“Undi Road”) was excluded from the wilderness proposal to allow current access to continue.
Recreation & Access
Mountain Bike Use on Olympic National Forest
The Wild Olympics Campaign spent more than two years meeting with local mountain bike advocates on the Olympic Peninsula and state and national mountain bike advocates to identify key mountain bike opportunities on the Olympic National Forest that may conflict with areas proposed for Wilderness. A number of areas (more than 15,000 acres) were identified that were important and included well-used trails that ultimately were excluded from the proposed wilderness in order to ensure that those riding opportunities would continue in the future. In many cases, these non wilderness trail corridors would be protected within a proposed Wild and Scenic River designation. These addressed issues resulted in the endorsement of the proposal from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Mountain bike trails that were excluded from the proposed wilderness and would therefore be unaffected include:
- Mt. Muller Loop Trail #882
- Kloshe Nanitch Trail #
- Lower Dungeness Trail #833.3
- Gold Creek Trail #830
- Lower S. Fk Skokomish Trail #873
- Mt. Zion Trail #836
- West Fork Humptulips Trail #806
- Deadfall Trail Trail
- “Dog Hair” (FS RD #2830)
- Lower Pete's Creek Trail #858
- Big Creek Loop Trail #827
- Lower Big Quilcene Trail #8333
- Ranger Hole Trail #824
- Brown Creek Nature Trail #877
- Wynoochie Lakeshore Trail #878
- Elk Lake Trail #805
- Lena Lake Trail #810
- Bogachiel Trail #825
Large Group Use at Lena Lake
Lena Lake and its access trail, located on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula, adjacent to the Brothers Wilderness, is one of the most popular and heavily used trails in the area and often accommodates large party sizes (i.e., 12 or more). Responding to concerns raised by hiking and recreation groups, a narrow trail corridor and the lake were excluded from the wilderness proposal and will continue to be managed as a late successional reserve consistent with its underlying semi-primitive non-motorized designations. This ensures that historical levels and types of use can continue (especially for groups of educational users such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and school groups).
Large Group Access at Lake Quinault Nature Trails
In response to concerns about large group use, a 100-ft setback from the Proposed Wilderness was established from the popular Lake Quinault Nature Trail system to ensure that large group use will be unaffected by a Wilderness designation.
In response to concerns raised about the ability to meet future recreation and education needs near the Bogachiel trailhead by the Olympic National Forest, the trail and surrounding land has been removed from Proposed Wilderness.
Future Trailhead Access
The Campaign has made a significant effort to ensure that current access to trailheads and open roads will be retained in the current proposal. The current access to all existing trails and primary trailheads within the proposal will be unchanged by the proposal.
Recreational and Tribal Access to Rugged Ridge
After concerns were raised by certain Tribes, west Peninsula residents and user groups about the need for mechanized access to the Rugged Ridge trailhead, Forest Service Roads #2900-070, 2900-072, 2900-075, 2900-078 were excluded from the wilderness proposal to ensure continued access for these activities.
Future Road Access
In response to concerns about impacts to future recreational and administrative access on forest roads, all Forest Service system roads were removed from the Proposed Wilderness. About 50 miles of forest service roads that have been slated to be decommissioned due to lack of maintenance dollars, high aquatic risk factors and lack of recreational access potential have been included in a Potential Wilderness category. This designation would only apply if and when these roads were decommissioned by the Olympic National Forest in the future and ensures consistency with the travel management plans.
General 200 ft setback from roads
Future Road Maintenance
In response to concerns about future impacts to continued maintenance to roads adjacent to Proposed Wilderness, adequate setbacks was established from the Proposed Wilderness for all Forest Service system roads (ranging from 200-500 ft setbacks).
Private Property Setbacks
In response to concerns by local residents and private landowners, a 200-foot setback (a large tree length) from the Proposed Wilderness was established from private property in the Lake Cushman and Lake Quinault areas to ensure no indirect impacts from a future wilderness designation to their property.
City of Port Townsend Municipal Watershed Pipeline and Diversion Access
After concerns were raised by the City of Port Townsend about potential impacts of the Proposed Wilderness to their continued access to a pipeline and diversion structure that they use under a Forest Service special use permit to manage their municipal water supply, an adequate setback from the Green Mountain Proposed Wilderness along the pipeline road and the Little Quilcene diversion structure was established to ensure existing and future maintenance and improvement of those facilities by the City. Additionally, the Wild & Scenic River proposal for the Big Quilcene River was reduced by 1.5 miles to a point 300 ft upstream of the City of Port Townsend’s Big Quilcene diversion facility to ensure future, pipeline and facility maintenance.
Wild & Scenic River Proposed Designations Focused on Public Lands
While Wild and Scenic River designation bans dams and other harmful federally-assisted water projects in the bed or banks of the river, it does not provide direct regulatory authority over zoning or land use activities on private or state lands adjacent to the designated river. However, after feedback from local residents and stakeholders, several stretched of proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers on private lands were removed from the proposal. We are not proposing Wild and Scenic River designation for any river stretches that flow through private lands if the landowner is opposed to the designation.
Proposed rivers reaches that were shortened include:
- Middle Fork Satsop
- West Fork Satsop
- East Fork Humptulips
- West Fork Humptulips
- Big Quilcene
- Sol Duc
- South Fork Hoh
- South Fork Calawah
Wild & Scenic River Proposed Designations focused on Eligible Rivers
In response to concerns raised by local residents and Olympic National Forest, the proposed Wild and Scenic River designations primarily focus on rivers that have been found eligible by the relevant federal agencies. Of the 26 proposed rivers and tributaries included in the proposal the majority have been found eligible by either Olympic National Forest or Olympic National Park. The few that were not found eligible were either not studied or significant changes have occurred over the past 25 years from the last assessment (i.e., consolidated federal land ownership, presence of listed species). Under its administrative policies, the Forest Service is obligated to manage rivers found eligible to protect the identified outstandingly remarkable values. In practice this makes the management impact of an eligible river post designation much the same except for the added prohibition of new dam building.
Wild & Scenic River Classifications Made Consistent with Existing Land Use Allocations
In response to concerns raised by timber interests and the Olympic National Forest, the Wild Olympic proposal carefully applied classifications (i.e., wild, scenic or recreational) to essentially mimic existing land use allocations and management. For example, a wild classification, which is the only one that carries a direct restriction on timber harvest, was applied on existing Wilderness areas, inventoried roadless areas, Late Successional Reserves over 80 years old or other areas that already included timber restrictions. Scenic and Recreational classifications were used for river reaches that did not include existing timber restrictions.
Willing Seller Park/Preserve Additions Dropped from Proposal
In response to feedback from local residents, timber interests and Tribes regarding the perceived impact of the willing seller national park/preserve additions, all 37,000 acres were removed from the proposal before it was introduced into Congress by Senator Murray and Congressman Dicks. In contrast to the original proposal by the conservation community, the legislation introduced in Congress does not include additions to Olympic National Park.