I’m grateful to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Sen. Patty Murray for introducing the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into Congress.
My wife and I have long admired the wild lands of the Olympic. In 1990 we retraced the steps of the Seattle Press exploring party which traveled up the Elwha River to the Low Divide and down the Quinault River in midwinter 100 years before. We have climbed many of the Olympic Mountains, and often visit the wilderness beaches that extend along the coast from Tatoosh to the Hoh River.
Preserving wilderness in the area has a rich and storied history beginning with President Grover Cleveland’s executive order forming the Olympic Forest Reserve in 1897.
In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation that created Olympic National Park, and in 1953, President Harry Truman added the Queets basin and the coastal strip. Washington’s own native son, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, led treks along the ocean beaches in 1958 and 1964 to help preserve that strip.
Many grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people who did not appreciate wilderness previously realize the incalculable value of wilderness today. The proposed legislation is a rational and natural extension of this wilderness treasure –and this poignant wilderness history. It is important for this generation of citizens and policymakers to continue to build on the legacy of preservation on the Olympic Peninsula.