Introduction to Working Wild Olympics Position/Vision Statement
The public revealing of Wild Olympics Campaign’s proposal for new Wilderness Areas; Wild and Scenic River designations on the Olympic National Forest and additions of state and private lands to the Olympic National Park has opened up dialogue on the direction and management of federal lands on the Olympic Peninsula. As one of the Peninsula groups actively addressing the WOC proposal, the WWOC offers to the general public and jurisdictional agencies of the Olympic Peninsula the following document: WORKING WILD OLYMPICS COALITION POSITION STATEMENT AND VISION.
The vision reflects important forest management and congressional actions that need to be addressed to implement actions to preserve and sustain some of the economic and recreational attributes of the Olympic National Forest. This vision is neither all-inclusive nor exclusive of other proposals reflecting federal land management on the Peninsula. It is a recommendation that needs to be injected into the discussions currently taking place regarding the Wild Olympics Campaign proposal.
WWOC Steering Committee31 August 2011
WORKING WILD OLYMPICS COALITION POSITION STATEMENT AND VISION
The following proposal outlines the vision of the Working Wild Olympics Coalition to recapture some of the economic and recreational attributes lost to the Olympic Peninsula communities over the past 35 years. These negative impacts were caused through rules and regulations developed to implement legislation such as the:
Ø 1974 Endangered Species Act Ø 1975 National Forest Management Act ØPolitically-driven management actions such as the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan Ø A host of other forest management decisions and actions.
Some of these were implemented in a covert and clandestine nature and have reduced the once mighty Olympic National Forest (ONF) managed under the “Multiple Use” concept to a status destined for preservation. Failure to effectively address many of the management actions and decisions noted above has brought us to where we are today.
Members of the Working Wild Olympics Coalition began monitoring and participating in the ONF management actions in large part due to the extensive blow-downs that occurred in the 2006 and 2007 catastrophic wind events. That timber is still lying on the forest floor. Additionally, the lack of maintenance of forest roads along with the wanton destruction of tax-payer funded roadways (decommissioning) is destroying forest infrastructure needed for prudent management and citizen access.
In early 2011 it was discovered by a group of citizens that there was an organized environmental movement called the Wild Olympic Campaign, which had been floating a proposal for two years, ‘covertly as possible,’ targeting potentially supportive individuals, groups, businesses, and public agencies throughout the Olympic Peninsula. This provided the impetus for a small group of citizens concerned over the demise and direction of the economical and recreational opportunities on the ONF to form the Working Wild Olympics Coalition to address the Wild Olympics proposal.
After finally bringing the Wild Olympics proposal to the Olympic community through public forum, it was discovered that there was overwhelming public opposition to the environmentalist’s proposal.
Following several months of debating the Wild Olympics proposal, the Working Wild Olympics Coalition principals tried to initiate discussions with the Wild Olympics principals to discuss some of our issues that we thought should be on the table. Because the Wild Olympics group was unresponsive to that proposal, the Working Wild Olympics Coalition decided to break off continued public debate and develop its own vision of what needs to occur to recapture some of the economic and recreational benefits of the ONF.
The following lists several issues that Working Wild Olympics Coalition feel needs to be addressed by the Olympic communities to improve management of the ONF and restore some of the economic and recreational opportunities degraded over the years.
Working Wild Olympics Coalition 31 August 2011Vision Paper
A Vision for a Working Olympic Peninsula
1. National Park Expansion: No National Park expansion including “willing seller” acquisitions of private or DNR Trust lands outside of the existing Park boundary. The Park is not managed well now, is economically incapable of maintaining its existing facilities or access roads and trails. It is not accessible to the majority of visiting tourists and the current (almost) million acres is sufficient for a quality wilderness experience for those physically capable. Transfer of any ownership of existing working forest or private property to park status reduces the net inventory of timberlands to support our timber-based economy.
2. Wild and Scenic River Designations: No wild and scenic designations on National Forest lands without full and open public discussion. The Peninsula Rivers are naturally wild and scenic and abundant fisheries producers under current laws, regulations and management plans and additional government regulatory overlay is unwarranted.
3. Wilderness Designations: No new wilderness designations on previously harvested and roaded lands on the Olympic National Forest. These lands do not meet the definition of wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act.
4. Olympic National Forest NW Forest Plan: Initiate an effort to modify the NW Forest Plan to add Matrix harvest areas (< 40 acres) throughout the second-growth stands in the late-successional reserve and adaptive management areas. Benefits include enhanced habitat for elk, deer, and other wildlife, which improves hunter success while providing additional jobs in the logging and forestry sector.
5. Forest Health: Maintain and enhance forest health through forest management and harvest usingadaptive management practices.
6. Emergency Salvage: Implement an emergency “blown-down” timber salvage mechanism in theOlympic National Forest plan to expedite the harvest of wind thrown timber resulting from catastrophic storm events such as occurred in 2006 and 2007. This should allow salvage of all ages of timber accessible in Late Successional Reserve (LSR) areas, and designated “Roadless” areas. Such emergency harvesting would not be appealable. Benefits include reducing the extreme fire hazard, improving wildlife habitat, providing jobs, while harvesting valuable timber whose receipts could be used to fund maintenance and enhancement of forest facilities.
7. Roadless Areas: Reopen discussions on designated Roadless areas. The communities neighboringdesignated Roadless areas did not receive adequate notice and opportunities to participate in the 2003 Roadless discussions
8. Forest Road Access: Request review of all USFS Access and Travel Management plans. Poor road maintenance as well as plans for road abandonment has impacted the Olympic Forest negatively. These plans must be reviewed in a new light as to how these roads maybe restored to allow motor access for recreationists, sportsman, and those just wishing to visit the forest. Additionally there should be no “net-loss” of timber harvest due to road decommissioning. The public notice and involvement in development of the current Access and Travel Management Plan (ATM) was inadequate.
9. Off-Road Vehicles: Develop ORV opportunities on USFS designated roads. The Olympic National Forest has no designated areas and roads for ORV use. Peninsula residents have to travel to other areas of the state or out of state for this recreational activity.
10. Trail Maintenance: Current regulations allow, but should be simplified and expedited, to utilize mechanical equipment (chain saws or other) to clear trails in preserved lands. Currently it takes years to receive approval to use chain saws. The use of hand saws is not practical when hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of trees are blown down across popular hiking trails.
11. Stewardship Contracts: Implement the use of stewardship contracts for harvesting the majority of timber on the Olympic Forest. These contracts trade timber for other forest needs. For example, roads can be rebuilt, maintained; trails can be built or rebuilt; campsites constructed; boat access to rivers built, etc. The value of timber harvested remains on the forest for its needs rather than being deposited in the federal government’s general fund.
12. Conversion Assessment: Request Congressional legislation to provide for an annual “in lieu of taxes payment” to affected counties that have private lands purchased or confiscated by the Olympic Park or Olympic National Forest. These payments should reflect the developed value of properties and for timberlands the severance taxes lost when timber is harvested. Counties and other community taxing districts are now deprived of revenue when lands go into government ownership. Benefit would be the stabilization of the stream of annual income to these counties.
13. Economic Impact Analysis: A study should be mandated by Congress for all National Park and National Forest land acquisitions and major changes to Park and Forest land management plans.
14. Public Notices: All National Park and National Forest public notices should be required to be posted in all major Peninsula newspapers serving the affected Olympic communities. Currently this is not being done and the people impacted by government actions are unaware of them. This would improve public notice of agency actions.
15. Implementation: It is intended that this vision be implemented with the participation of all stakeholders including counties, cities and Tribal governments, the forest industry, labor unions, sportsmen, recreationalists, environmental groups, and private property owners.
One that stands out" Off road vehicles...NO TO ANY OFF ROAD VEHICLES in ANY PARK LAND, and this will be a park. Want to destroy your land? fine, go ahead.
The Wild Olympic Campaign has more than 4,500 citizens who support it, and for good reasons. Get beyond your own selfishness and see why.