WOC PRESS RELEASE
QUILCENE, WA – More than 100 Olympic Peninsula and South Puget Sound CEOs and local businesses from multiple sectors of the economy announced their support for the Wild Olympics Campaign today, adding to the long list of local businesses already backing the Campaign.
Nine CEOs and nearly 100 new business endorsers from the Olympic Peninsula and South Puget Sound Region are the latest local economic leaders to urge permanent protection of Olympic National Forest’s scenic backcountry, rivers and streams. In a letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA06), the heads of HOPE Roofing & Construction (Port Townsend), Paladin Data Systems (Poulsbo), The Holiday Inn Express and Conference Center (Sequim), Rice Fergus Miller Inc (Bremerton), SAGE Fly Rods (Bainbridge Island), Grounds For Change (Poulsbo), Green Mountain Technologies (Bainbridge Island) and Taylor Shellfish (Shelton) urged the lawmakers to quickly reintroduce The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to safeguard the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests and free-flowing rivers.
The CEOs point out that the area’s natural treasures, which provide world-class outdoor recreation, clean water and the area’s high quality of living “give us a competitive edge over other regions in attracting and retaining the talented people our companies require.” Wilderness and wild and scenic river protection “would help protect the 500-plus local jobs that depend on our ability to compete for talent against other regions, and they would enhance our recruitment efforts to grow our businesses in the future.”
Read our "Quality of Life" Economic Fact Sheet available here.
Nearly 100 new local business endorsements were also sent in a separate letter urging swift reintroduction of the Wild Olympics legislation to protect and grow local jobs in multiple sectors of the economy. The business owners and economic leaders say the legislation would both protect and create local jobs in shipping and trade, construction, real estate, fishing, information technology, the shellfish industry, tourism, manufacturing and other sectors of the region’s economy.
“Wild Olympics would protect and promote the same spectacular public lands and high quality of life that are helping to drive growth and create local jobs in real estate, construction and many other sectors of our economy today” said Harriet Reyenga, an independent Realtor for Windermere Real Estate in Port Angeles, one of the nearly 100 local business owners who signed the letter in support of Wild Olympics. “Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and stunning scenery are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions” said Reyenga, who recently won the 2012 Realtor Achievement Award from the Port Angeles Association of Realtors. “We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. Wild Olympics would do both.”
In urging early reintroduction of the measure, the CEOs point to the findings in a November 2012 report by the independent, non-partisan Headwaters Economics “West Is Best: Protected Lands Promote Jobs and Higher Incomes -How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage.” The report found that protected public lands are key to attracting companies, entrepreneurs and workers and that national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other protected public lands in the Western US have enhanced the competitive advantages of high-tech and professional services companies – a major reason why the western economy has outperformed the rest of the U.S. economy in employment, population, and personal income over the last four decades.
The CEO letter also notes another 2012 Headwaters Economics report that found similar trends locally. It showed growth of over 5,000 new jobs on the Olympic Peninsula over the last ten years in trade and shipping, health care, education, business services, real estate, construction and other sectors, and found strong population growth from new residents drawn by the Peninsula’s high quality of living. The study reported job growth across multiple sectors of the local economy including those represented by the 225 local businesses now backing the Wild Olympics Campaign.
The new CEO and local business endorsements capped a wave of additional support pouring in for the Wild Olympics Campaign in recent weeks from Visit Kitsap Peninsula, mountain bike, climbing, paddling, hunting and fishing organizations and more than 80 local faith leaders representing 10 different religious denominations. Currently, over 450 elected officials, local farms and businesses, conservation and recreation groups and faith leaders have endorsed the Wild Olympics proposal. Full list available HERE.
The conservation measure introduced last Congress would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of wilderness in the Olympic National Forest and designate 19 rivers and seven tributaries —totaling 464 miles – as Wild and Scenic.
The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 3329/H.R. 5995), was introduced by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks on June 21, 2012 but awaits reintroduction in this Congress. The legislation would protect the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly 30 years and mark the first-ever Wild and Scenic River designations on the Peninsula.
The measure has been the subject of more than four years of discussion and public input, and as a result of this unprecedented community involvement, numerous and significant changes to the proposal were made before legislation was introduced in 2012, including the removal of the Parks addition component originally included in the campaign's proposal. The compromise legislation introduced in 2012 did not include any roads in the proposed Wilderness and preserved all access to trailheads.
These and other revisions ensured that the final proposal will not cost any timber jobs, earning the compromise legislation the backing of Port Angeles Timber Company Merrill and Ring. Cosmo Specialty Fibers, owners of the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill in Grays Harbor also issued a statement praising the inclusive process and stating the currently proposed legislation would not affect their fiber interests. A 2012 bipartisan poll found overwhelming support for the Wild Olympics proposal among likely voters in Washington's 6th Congressional District. Nearly two out of three (64 percent) likely voters support the Wild Olympics plan proposed by Rep. Dicks and Sen. Murray. Only 15 percent are opposed. On the Peninsula, support was nearly 2-1, with 50% supporting, and only 28% opposed.