(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) applauded an important step forward for the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2015, which would protect environmentally sensitive parts of the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park, support outdoor recreation opportunities, and preserve and grow jobs on the Olympic Peninsula. The bill was considered today in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“This step is great news for anyone who enjoys our prized wild spaces, and wants to protect them for generations to come. I am going to keep pushing to move this bill forward,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to have worked with Congressman Kilmer and many different groups and stakeholders in Washington state to reach this proposal, and believe that it is our responsibility to keep up the momentum on this important legislation.”

“As someone who grew up in Port Angeles, I’ve always said that we don’t have to choose between economic growth and environmental protection,” said Representative Kilmer. “Today’s hearing is a step forward and a product of all the conversations we’ve had with small business owners, tribes, and environmental advocates to create a compromise that works for local communities. This legislation is part of a practical, balanced strategy to protect our natural beauty while attracting businesses to stay, grow, and invest in our future. I’m grateful for the partnership of Senator Murray and folks throughout our region who helped develop this strong proposal.”   

Support for local elected officials and business owners has been growing since the bill’s reintroduction last year. The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act would designate 126,554 acres of existing federal land as wilderness in the Olympic National Forest and designate 464 river miles across 19 rivers and major tributaries on the Olympic Peninsula as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The wilderness designation permanently protects high-quality forest habitat throughout the region. The Wild and Scenic Rivers designation would add federal recognition to the outstanding river systems on the Peninsula, protecting them as a source of clean drinking water and helping to keep Puget Sound clean for generations to come. This designation does not restrict private property rights.

To read Senator Murray’s statement for the record at Committee, click here. For more information on its introduction, click here.

Click here for usable photos of the Wild Olympics.