QUILCENE, WA – More than 50 hunting, fishing and recreation groups and outdoor businesses have joined the Wild Olympics Campaign in calling for permanent protection of our great outdoors as Washington gets ready to celebrate the 4th of July. Support for protection of the free-flowing rivers and scenic backcountry on Olympic National Forest by outdoor recreation sportsmen’s groups and recreational users of the area continues to roll-in,- with more than 50 recreation-oriented supporters now backing the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, sponsored in the last Congress by Senator Murray and Congressman Dicks.
These supporters recognize that miles of backcountry hiking trails, access to popular mountain-bike trails, and river access would all be protected with this legislation. The broad support from recreational users is in large part due to the efforts of the original Congressional sponsors who collaborated with local recreational users and sportsmen to ensure not a single mile of road would be closed by the proposal. Those of us who rely on roads for access still be able to drive to any place on the Olympic National Forest we can today.
Mountain Bikers Join in Support
In formally endorsing the Wild Olympics proposal earlier this year, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and International Mountain Bicycling Association wrote that "mountain bikers share a strong interest in protecting our wild areas for future generations." While mountain bike use is excluded from federally-designated wilderness, these groups spoke to the collaborative process that included "slight boundary adjustments, companion designations (such as Wild and Scenic Rivers and Special Management Areas) and specific trail corridors" that are all integral to protecting the quality of the mountain biking experience on such trails as the Gold Creek Loop on the Dungeness River or the South Fork Skokomish trail, both of which pass through stands of old-growth forest.
Climbers and Mountaineers Support
In endorsing the Wild Olympics proposal, the climbing community as represented by The Mountaineers, Washington Climbers Coalition, Washington Alpine Club, Access Fund, and American Alpine Club recently wrote of the importance of the Olympic Mountains as a prized destination for climbers seeking opportunities to achieve glaciated summits and enjoy long alpine traverses. In their letter of support, they said that the "proposed additions to the Mount Skokomish Wilderness will protect scrambling and climbing objectives such as Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, Jefferson Peak, Mt. Ellinor and the nearby Ellinor Towers…The legislation also touches two of the few traditional and sport rock climbing crags on the Olympics, the Hamma Hamma River Rocks and McCleary Cliffs. By designating the Hamma Hamma River as Wild and Scenic, climbers for generations to come will continue to enjoy views of the free-flowing river from the roadside basalt formations that compose the walls and boulders at the Hamma Hamma River Rocks area. Further, climbers at McCleary Cliffs will appreciate the protected viewshed afforded by wilderness additions above Lake Cushman."
Sportsmen make the connections between permanent watershed protection, recreational and commercial fishing and hunting access, and healthy habitat for game and other wildlife. They support the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act because it would protect hunting and fishing access while permanently protecting rivers and roadless backcountry. The Wild Olympics proposal is supported by over a dozen hunting and fishing organizations, including Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, NW Guides and Anglers Association, Washington Council of Trout Unlimited, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Washington Wildlife Federation; Backcountry Hunters and Anglers -Washington Chapter, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Sportsmen for Wild Olympics (Aberdeen), Izaak Walton League of America,Greater Seattle Chapter, Able Guide Service, (Sekiu), Norrie Johnson Guide Service (Sequim), Little Stone Flyfisher (Port Townsend), Greywolf Flyfishing Club (Sequim), Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters (Port Angeles),
Earlier this year, support from the paddling community for river protection of the Olympic Peninsula rivers grew with the endorsement of national, regional, and local paddling organizations whose members enjoy the spectacular rivers of the Olympic Peninsula. American Canoe Association, American Whitewater, Olympic Peninsula Paddlers, Paddle Trails Canoe Club, Washington Kayak Club, and Washington Recreational River Runners noted in a letter of support that their members "seek unspoiled paddling adventures in deep river canyons, over secluded cascades, through quiet pools amid ancient forests, and along the marine coastline" where the special qualities of the Pacific Northwest paddling experience can be enjoyed. These groups expressed their appreciation that the legislation was "carefully crafted to recognize the importance of public access to rivers and waterways. While some of the river reaches provide backcountry challenges requiring hiking and portaging, the majority of paddlers access these rivers from the Forest Service and National Park road system. Recognizing and preserving existing road access to paddling destinations is an important element of the legislation."
Outdoor Business Support
The Wild Olympics proposal would protect the outdoor recreation experience enjoyed by residents who live in the area for the quality of life benefits and visitors from around the world. The forests and rivers attract millions of dollars in tourism annually, and provide clean drinking water to the region's residents. They provide the stunning scenery and high quality of life benefits that attract entrepreneurs, new residents and investment in communities. Outdoor recreation is an important business for our state. In endorsing the proposal earlier this year, 16 major outdoor recreation businesses based in the region, including Cascade Designs, Outdoor Research, and Filson noted that "active outdoor recreation contributes more than $646 billion annually to the U.S. economy, driving business and contributing to healthy communities nationwide. Across Washington, direct consumer spending on outdoor recreation adds $22.5 billion annually to the state’s economy, and supports 226,600 jobs. Recreation in the Wild Olympics supports outdoor businesses, and healthy outdoor businesses contribute to healthy local economies."
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 legislation introduced in 2012 did not include or close any roads and preserved all access to trailheads.
The compromises ensured the final proposal will not cost any timber jobs – earning the backing of Port Angeles Timber Company Merrill and Ring. Cosmo Specialty Fibers, owners of the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill in Grays Harbor County issued a statement after the park additions were dropped, praising the inclusive process and stating that with the proposal reduced, their own fiber interests were not affected.
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.
Currently, nearly 300 elected officials, local farms and businesses, conservation and recreation groups and faith leaders have endorsed the Wild Olympics proposal. A full list can be viewed at http://www.wildolympics.org/supporters/endorsements. A sub-set of the recreation-oriented endorsements follows:
Hunting, Fishing and Recreation Endorsers of Wild Olympics (31)
ABLE Guide Service (Seiku)
American Alpine Club
American Canoe Association
Association of Northwest Steelheaders
Doug Rose Flyfishing (Forks)
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs
Greater Seattle Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America
Greywolf Flyfishing Club (Sequim)
International Mountain Bicycling Association
Little Stone Flyfisher (Port Townsend)
Norrie Johnson Guide Service (Sequim)
Northwest Guides and Anglers Association
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
Olympic Peninsula Paddlers Club
Pacific Alpine Guides(Port Angeles)
Paddle Trails Canoe Club
Peninsula Wilderness Club (Bremerton)
Sportsmen for Wild Olympics
Washington Alpine Club
Washington Bacountry Hunters and Anglers
Washington Climbers Coalition
Washington Council of Trout Unlimited
Washington Kayak Club
Washington Recreational River Runners
Washington Wildlife Federation
Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters (Port Angeles)
Wild Steelhead Coalition (Quilcene)
Outdoor Recreation Businesses Endorsers of Wild Olympics (22)
American Alpine Institute
C. C. Filson,Co
Runner Girl Races, LLC
Brian's Sporting Goods and More (Sequim)
Dungeness Kayaking (Sequim)
Hood Canal Adventures (Union)
Olympic Outdoor Center (Port Gamble)
Olympic Raft & Kayak (Port Angeles)
Pygmy Boats, Inc (Port Townsend)
The ReCyclery (Port Townsend)
Sound Bikes & Kayak (Port Angeles)
Sport Townsend (Port Townsend)
Wildernest Outdoor Store (Port Townsend)