Good Day for Wild and Scenic Rivers

Today is an historic day for Washington State. After years of discussions and negotiations, U.S. Representative Norm Dicks and U.S. Senator Patty Murray introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012. If passed into law, the bill would secure permanent protections for an estimated 464 miles of rivers through Wild and Scenic designation and add over 120,000 acres of Wilderness lands on the Olympic Peninsula.

Like many other states, Washington is woefully underrepresented when it comes to Wild and Scenic rivers. The state only has 6 rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (see cartogram on right), but with 19 rivers and 7 tributaries slated for designation, the Wild Olympics legislation would more than triple the number of Wild and Scenic rivers in the state and it is the largest designation package in Washington State’s history.

Included in the bill is the Elwha River, which is undergoing an unprecedented recovery effort that began with the country’s largest dam removal last year. We can learn many lessons from the removal of the Elwha dams, and one vital lesson is to protect rivers that possess outstanding values, from fisheries to recreation to wildlife habitat, before they become degraded, altered, and scarred by irresponsible development.

The Olympic Peninsula is home to many other remarkable rivers and streams like the Hamma Hamma, Queets, and the Hoh. Please share your stories, photos, and connects to these incredible rivers with us. You never know – your story may be highlighted on our Facebook page!

After years of discussions and hard work, we want to thank the many local residents, business owners, recreation enthusiasts, and conservation experts who have dedicated themselves to working collaboratively and constructively to develop a strong package of protections.

We also want to thank Representative Dicks and Senator Murray for their steadfast leadership and commitment to protecting our rivers and lands and ensuring that the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula are clean, healthy, and sustainably managed for generations to come!

For more information, check out the Wild Olympics coalition website. You can also read the Congressional press release and legislation information.