May 08, 2015

In Port Angeles, Kilmer Joins Official Launch of the Olympic Peninsula Collaborative

PORT ANGELES, WA – Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) joined the official launch of the Olympic Peninsula Collaborative in Port Angeles. Kilmer hosted an interactive panel discussion with local stakeholders to detail how the collaborative will seek to benefit the environmental quality of area forests and support sustainable timber harvests on the Olympic Peninsula. 

Kilmer was joined at the event by regional leaders from the National Forest Service, local governments, the local timber industry, and environmental advocacy groups. The Collaborative is focused on landscape restoration, watershed protection, and habitat conservation that will create economic opportunities on the Olympic Peninsula. Among the items discussed at the meeting were the group’s goals and governance structure, along with the best ways to incorporate feedback from the public.

“I grew up in Port Angeles,” said Kilmer. “I know that our forests keep our waters clean, provide habitats for stunning wildlife, and bring visitors from all over to take in these amazing sites. They have also provided support for mills, quality jobs, and our local economy. Two years ago we embarked on this project to start a collaborative to bring together regional leaders to work on restoring our forests and promoting harvest levels. We still have a lot of work to do but this launch marks real progress towards showing we don’t have to choose between protecting our environment and creating a more vibrant economy.”

“We are hopeful the Olympic Peninsula Collaborative will lead to the implementation of progressive and new management techniques and prescriptions on the Olympic National Forest,” said Matt Comisky, Washington Manager of the American Forest Resource Council. “This work should result in a long term sustainable future for the milling infrastructure and the rural communities located on the Peninsula, while helping the Forest reach its ecological goals.”

“We appreciate the leadership of Representative Kilmer in bringing all parties to the table to focus on areas where we agree rather than disagree,” said Olympic Forest Coalition Board Member Jill Silver and Olympic Park Associates Vice President Tim McNulty in a joint statement. “This collaborative process will improve habitat conditions in the forests and streams on the Olympic Peninsula for a range of species. Currently, there are thousands of acres of dense and structurally simple forest on the Olympic National Forest that provide poor habitat. Increasing the amount of carefully designed, habitat restoration thinning treatments in these types of forests will improve diversity and accelerate the development of more complex, older forest conditions. Additionally, we appreciate the willingness of the Olympic National Forest to invest revenue from timber sales directly into habitat restoration through stewardship contracts. Combining thinning with holistic watershed restoration projects will improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. OFCO and OPA will be helping to craft and monitor these projects to ensure they follow the best available science and the Northwest Forest Plan.”

The Olympic Peninsula Collaborative is modeled on similar partnerships in Washington state like the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition. It is the first of its kind on the Peninsula solely dedicated to creating environmentally sound forests while increasing sustainable timber harvests.  

Participants in the Collaborative include: American Forest Resource Council, American Whitewater, Cosmo Specialty Fibers, Interfor, Merrill & Ring, the Mountaineers, Murphy Company, Olympic Park Associates, Olympic Forest Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Pacific Industries, Washington Wild, and the Wild Olympics Campaign

Since first coming to Congress Kilmer has worked to help stand up the collaborative. In December of 2013 he announced the formation of the partnership and has worked with stakeholders in the conservation, timber, and local governments on the launch. He is also the Co-Chair of the Healthy Forest Caucus, founded in 2013. The caucus is a bipartisan working group devoted to the state of forest health, forest management practices, conservation efforts and engagement with communities that depend on the health of our forests.