OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Dignitaries will gather at Hurricane Ridge today to celebrate the dedication of the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness.
Daniel Evans is a former U.S. senator and Washington governor whose efforts played a key role in the preservation of more than 1.7 million acres of wilderness in the state, Olympic National Park officials said.
The Olympic Wilderness, which covers 95 percent of the park, has been renamed to honor Evans for his contributions to wilderness preservation, park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said.
“It’s not changing the wilderness,” Wagner added. “It’s not adding or subtracting land. It’s just a renaming of the existing wilderness.”
The public is invited to the dedication ceremony.
The event will be from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the west end of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center parking lot.
Parking will be available on a first-come, first served basis.
Invited speakers are Evans, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, state Sen. Hans Zeiger, Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Lee Taylor and Sequim author Tim McNulty.
In 2016, Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, introduced S. 3028, while H.R. 5397 was sponsored by members of the Washington delegation in the House, including Derek Kilmer.
Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
The bill was signed into law Dec. 14, 2016, by President Barack Obama.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law in 1964 “to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness,” Olympic National Park officials said in a news release.
The idea was to preserve a remnant of the country’s untamed, wild places as wilderness for the permanent good of the people.
Wilderness areas help protect complex ecosystems, natural processes and habitat for threatened and endangered species, park officials said.
In March 1988, Evans introduced the Washington Park Wilderness Act with former Sen. Brock Adams.
The bill proposed more than 1.7 million acres of wilderness within Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in November 1988.
The act designated 877,000 acres in Olympic National Park as the Olympic Wilderness.
Evans served three terms as Washington governor from 1965 to 1977. He was a senator from 1983 to 1989.
Evans and his wife, Nancy Evans, live in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.