December 14, 2023

Kilmer, Murray Celebrate Their Wild Olympics Bill Passing through Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, introduced and championed by U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray, passed through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at a markup on pending legislation. Their legislation would permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness, and 19 rivers and their major tributaries – a total of 464 river miles – as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

“As someone who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned firsthand that economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m heartened to see the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee consider this practical, balanced strategy that will protect the wildest and most pristine places on the Olympic Peninsula while ensuring we can keep and grow jobs in our natural resource industries and other sectors. And I’m grateful for the years-long collaboration to create a proposal that works for folks across the community—including Tribes, sportsmen, conservation groups, timber communities, business leaders, shellfish growers, and everyone in between.”

“The Olympic Peninsula is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems in the entire country, and we have to fight to do everything we can to protect them,” said Sen. Murray. “Our bill would preserve the beauty and the rich natural resources that make the Wild Olympics so precious to people from all walks of life, and ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience the Wild Olympics as we do today. It took years of effort and collaboration among advocates, sportsmen, Tribes, local leaders, and so many others to get to where we are today—passing Wild Olympics through Committee is a big win, and our job now is to keep up the momentum and get this bill to President Biden’s desk.”

The legislation – which was designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water, and salmon streams and enhance outdoor recreation – would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. The Wild Olympics legislation has made steady progress each successive Congress since its original introduction; last Congress, the legislation passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support and advanced farther than ever in the U.S. Senate.

The legislation is endorsed by more than 800 individuals and organizations, including the Quinault, Quileute, Elwha and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribes; over 30 local sportsmen organizations and fishing guides; the mayors of Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Ocean Shores and other local elected officials; businesses and CEOs; farms and faith leaders; conservation and outdoor recreation groups; and many others. More than 12,000 local residents have also signed petitions in support.

The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has been carefully crafted through extensive community input to ensure the proposal will have no impact on existing timber jobs. It would permanently protect critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for local communities, while also protecting and expanding world-class outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, camping, boating, hunting, and fishing without closing any roads.

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