LETTER: Wild Olympics legislation trying to protect something that’s already protected

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray have re-introduced Wild Olympics legislation to “protect environmentally sensitive areas, support outdoor recreation and preserve and grow jobs,” according to the March 6 Peninsula Daily News [“Kilmer, Murray Re-introduce Wild Olympic Legislation”].

This legislation, if approved, would designate 126,554 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 464 miles of 19 rivers and streams as wild and scenic.

This initiative is being promoted with the belief that there is a need for additional protection of the North Olympic Peninsula’s forests and streams.

The 923,000-acre Olympic National Park, the core of the Peninsula, is surrounded on the peripheral by the 600,000-acre Olympic National Forest.

Combined, the national park and national forest provide substantial protection of the Peninsula’s forests and rivers.

In addition, the rivers and adjacent riparian areas are already protected by no fewer than 10 government agencies, including the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state Department of Natural Resources, state Department of Ecology, Clallam County Department of Community Development and tribal natural resources departments.

The federal Endangered Species Act, the federal Clean Water Act, the Washington State Hydraulic Code, the Washington State Forest Practices Act, the Clallam County Shoreline Management Act and a variety of habitat conservation plans are examples of laws, regulations and plans administered by the previously mentioned agencies directed at protecting the Peninsula’s forests and streams.

Instead of promoting another attempt at previously failed legislation, Rep. Kilmer and Sen. Murray might consider exploring additional natural-resource-based job opportunities for their constituents.

Richard Cahill,

Sol Duc River

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cahill is a retired state Department of Natural Resources forester and a former member of the Clallam County Shoreline and Sensitive Areas Committee.