Wild Olympics legislation an investment in environmental, economic future, proponent tells Jefferson County chamber
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Roy Nott speaks to a Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce audience Monday. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Wild Olympics bill represents an investment in the future that makes good economic and environmental sense, a speaker told the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

“Business owners willingly tell you what they do, but they won’t always tell you why,” said Roy Nott, president of Surfactor Americas LLC in Centralia, a manufacturer of surfaces for the woodworking industry.

“In this case, my ‘why’ has to do with my 6-year-old granddaughter Mariam and her peers and their future.”

Nott addressed about 45 people at the chamber’s weekly meeting at the Port Townsend Elks Club.

The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 was introduced in Congress in January, with U.S. Rep Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, sponsoring identical versions of the bill in their respective chambers.

If passed, it would ban logging on 126,554 acres of the 633,000-acre Olympic National Forest.

It also would designate 19 rivers and seven tributaries in Olympic National Forest, in Olympic National Park and on state Department of Natural Resources land as wild and scenic.

“Our young people are spending too much time with computers and too much time indoors,” Nott said.

“They are not spending enough time connecting with truly wild things.

“It can also increase their creativity and improve their mental health.”

Preserving wild areas close to home will allow kids the opportunity to visit them and subsequently enhance their lives, Nott said.

Preserving the environment can also prevent people from moving away from a region, Nott said.

“There is a pessimism, a cynicism among young people that if they are going to succeed, they will have to get out of the town where they grew up,” Nott said.

“But a number of academicians are beginning to look at rural communities in the west with and without protected public timberlands and have found something that refutes the commodity nature of what trees are worth, that counties with these areas are doing better economically.

“We need to understand the how and the why, but the evidence is clear,” he said.

“There is hope that keeping these lands can begin to reverse what is called brain drain and can keep younger people in these areas.”

Nott was accompanied by John Owen from the Wild Olympics Campaign who said that more than 250 businesses on the Northern Olympic Peninsula had endorsed the bill “because it will give us the clean water and high quality of life that will attract new businesses and give the area a competitive edge,”

If the bill is defeated, the areas now protected could be logged and lost while passing the bill will protect them forever, Owen said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 23. 2014 6:12PM
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