By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The first of a series of public “scoping meetings” for the Olympic Wilderness Stewardship Plan was held Monday for park representatives to gather suggestions for managing wilderness areas, which comprise 95 percent of the park.
A second open house will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim.
Other meetings, both from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., are set for Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Sekiu Community Center, 42 Rice St., and Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Department of Natural Resources Conference Room, 411 Tillicum Lane in Forks.
The public is being asked to answer questions about their desires for the park as officials begin to develop a wilderness stewardship plan for the next decade or longer.
The plan will be developed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964 and analyzed through an environmental impact statement, or EIS, with a plan expected to be released next year.
Comments will be taken until March 23.
Twenty or 30 people at a time circulated through the open house at Jefferson Elementary School in Port Angeles on Tuesday, walking from one station to another as park rangers answered questions.
“What do you want the Olympic wilderness to look like in 20 years?” said Barb Maynes, park spokeswoman.
Suggestions included improvements in trail maintenance, trails and bridges for horseback riding and staffing, as well as restricting the size of day-use groups.
One visitor suggested closing the park for two days while specially licensed hunters shoot non-native mountain goats that inhabit some of the higher-elevation areas, and another asked for the tagging and collaring of animals to be stopped.
There has been some misunderstanding of what the meetings are about, Maynes said.
The meetings do not address the Wild Olympics legislation, which was introduced in 2012 but expired at the end of the congressional session and has not been reintroduced.
Instead, the meetings are about the wilderness stewardship plan, which was last updated in 1980, she said.
The online address given by the park for information and leaving comments is http://parkplanning.nps.gov/olymwild, but it was not accessible Wednesday, and park personnel were investigating.
Public comment also can be made to Sarah Creachbaum, Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan, Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.