(Photo courtesy Lateral Line Media)
The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act would permanently protect critical habitat, headwaters and streams for salmon, steelhead, elk & other game on Olympic National Forest. It would also protect and enhance access for sportsmen.
We are often asked; "Are these areas really threatened?" Sadly, the answer is yes. The dangerous 'public land transfer' & "Logging Without Laws" bills advancing in congress & the small-hydro project proposals brewing in the Cascades are grim reminders our priceless backcountry headwaters & salmon streams on Olympic National Forest are at risk. They are threatened by small hydro power developers, private industry and their friends in congress, trying to rollback safeguards on our public lands to open these sensitive spawning grounds to small hydro development, industrial clearcutting and roadbuilding once more. That's bad for fish, game and sportsmen.
Only full, Congressionally-designated Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect core backcountry elk habitat and critical salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development. The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River Act would grant these natural salmon and elk nurseries the permanent protection they deserve. Here are some of the threats they face without the permanent protection offered by the Wild Olympics legislation.
OUR PUBLIC LANDS FOR SALE - THE DANGEROUS 'PUBLIC LAND TRANSFER' BILLS THREATENING SPORTSMEN ACCESS
America’s 640 million acres of national public lands – (including Olympic National Forest) – provide hunting and fishing opportunities to millions of Americans. They represent the uniquely American values of freedom and adventure that are the envy of the world.
This is particularly true in the West, where, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 72 percent of sportsmen depend on access to public lands for hunting. Without these vast expanses of prairie and sagebrush, foothills and towering peaks, the traditions of hunting and fishing as we have known them for more than a century would be lost due to the national public lands transfer.
Since 2014, efforts have been afoot locally & in congress to transfer federally-managed public lands to the states, which would result in one likely outcome: the fire-sale of these lands to the highest bidder and loss of access for sportsmen and American families. Hunters and anglers across the West have held rallies and responded in their local papers with a resounding ‘No way. Not my lands.’
HEADWATERS AT RISK - "LOGGING WITHOUT LAWS" ON PUBLIC LANDS
Our Headwaters at Risk Right now, the roadless backcountry headwaters on Olympic National Forest are off limits to logging & roadbuilding under current Forest Service rules. However these protections are subject to change under each new President, and right now they are under attack. Every year large, corporate polluters and their friends in congress try to rollback these temporary safeguards and open sensitive headwaters on public land to industrial clearcutting and roadbuilding once more.
These articles highlight recent battles sportsmen have fought against some of these extreme measures in congress that would bulldoze our backcountry headwaters & salmon streams on public land. We fully support sustainable forestry & habitat restoration. But these extreme proposals would tie the hands of land managers & mandate logging in sensitive fish & wildlife habitat critical to local Sportsmen. Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River designations would permanently protect Olympic National Forest's headwaters & salmon streams against such ill-conceived measures in the future.
It would force the Forest Service to log 50% of all timber volume on the Forest, ignoring safeguards for salmon streams and wildlife while preventing sportsmen from advocating for their favorite places to hunt and fish on public land. The only safeguards this extreme logging bill would exempt are congressionally designated Wilderness areas - the same safeguards Wild Olympics would provide.
If enacted it would open our last remaining roadless headwaters on Olympic National Forest to industrial clearcutting and roadbuilding once more - destroying some of the last, best salmon and steelhead spawning habitat left on the Olympic Peninsula and polluting our rivers downstream. These remote, backcountry lands far away from roads and people are also important elk calving habitat and act as scecluded nursuries for other wildlife and game as well.
That's why the Sportsmen Community has rallied in defense of keeping our last wild public lands wild.
The Wilderness designations in the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act would permanently protect these critical headwaters on public land against extreme legislation like "Logging Without Laws" or the "Great Outdoors Giveaway Act," and prevent future Presidential Administrations from opening up our last remaining backcountry on Olympic National Forest to industrial development.
RIVERS AT RISK - THE GROWING THREAT OF SMALL-HYDRO
DOE Pushing Hydo-Development of 11 Peninsula Rivers
At the end of April 2014 Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the U.S. has the potential to add more than 65.5 GW of new hydropower to the nation's energy portfolio by 2030.
Meeting this goal would require damming over 3 million river and stream reaches across the country, including 11 Olympic Peninsula rivers DOE targeted that are also in the Wild Olympics legislation. Moniz's comments came as the Energy Department released a report entitled New Stream-reach Development: A Comprehensive Assessment of Hydropower Energy Potential in the United States.
The impact of hydropower dams on river ecosystems is significant and well documented. Dams disrupt flows, degrade water quality, block the movement of a river's vital nutrients and sediment, destroy fish and wildlife habitat, impede migration of fish and other aquatic species, and eliminate recreational opportunities for fishing.
Looming Hydro Developer Gold Rush
Every legislative session in Olympia, Hydro developers try to change our state's renewable energy standards and win subsidies to build small-scale hydro projects on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula and the rest of the state. Such changes would create a "gold-rush" of hydro development throughout Washington. To date, they have not been successful but they continue to represent a threat to public power and our region's rivers as they seek ways to realize profit from our public waterways at public expense. The Wild & Scenic river designations in the Wild Olympics bill would protect our rivers from Hydro forever, even if developers are successful in changing state energy laws.
Small-Hydro Advancing In WA However one need look no further than the small-hydro project proposals advancing in the Cascades to realize hydro can still move forward without waiting for changes in renewable energy standards.
The two separate small-hydro development projects being pushed by Snohomish County PUD and a private hydropower developer on the Skykomish and Snoqualmie, respectively, are on portions of the rivers that have the exact same level of protection as the Peninsula's rivers.
They were proposed for Wild & Scenic designation by the Forest Service 20 years ago, they are "Protected Areas" from hydropower development under the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and they are within Tribal usual and accustomed use areas. But because Congress never passed legislation formally designating these rivers as Wild & Scenic Rivers, the current level of protections are not enough to prevent these projects from advancing. The Wild Olympics bill would prevent this from happening to Peninsula rivers.
National Wave of Mini-Hydro
The hydro projects in the Cascades are just one small part of a much larger, alarming national wave of small-hydro development on rivers on public land.
The Congressionally-designated Wild & Scenic River safeguards in the Wild Olympics legislation would permanently protect our rivers against small hydro development forever, even in the face of this alarming national trend.
Watch Our New Video: "Salmon Streams for Our Future" To Learn More
Sportsmen For Wild Olympics
Sportsmen for Wild Olympics Members:
Able Guide Service (Sekiu)
Dave Bailey (Gardiner)
Waters West Guide Service (Montesano)
Norrie Johnson Guide Service (Sequim)
Angler's Obsession (Forks)
Little Stone Flyfisher (Port Townsend)
Denny Clemons (Elma)
Anadromy Fly Fishing (Forks)
Game On Guide Service (Shelton)
Piscatorial Pursuits (Forks)
Peninsula Sportsman Guide &
Outfitting Service (Port Townsend)
Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (Forks)
Mike Z's Guide Service (Forks)
Jason Bausher (Aberdeen)
Doug Rose Fly fishing (Forks)
Other Hunting & Fishing Organizations Supporting Wild Olympics:
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers -Washington Chapter
Greywolf Flyfishing Club (Sequim)
Washington River Fishing (Hoodsport)
Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters (Port Angeles)
Wild Steelhead Coalition
Brazda's Fly Fishing
Sea Run Pursuits
Washington Wildlife Federation
Izaak Walton League of America,
Greater Seattle Chapter
Association of Northwest Steelheaders
Gig Harbor Fly Shop
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
Washington Council of Trout
NW Guides and Anglers Association
Sage Fly Rods
WILD OLYMPICS CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL SITE: