World-Class Outdoor Recreation in the Pacific Northwest
To protect a place, you have to know it. You have to explore it and love it. Just a two-three hour drive from Seattle, the Olympic Mountains tower over the Puget Sound. The Olympic Peninsula is an incredible place to explore with some of the largest trees on the planet, dark canyons with wild rivers and fern-draped walls and deep beds of moss that carpet the forest floor. The more time you spend on the Peninsula, the more you fall in love with it. And while Olympic National Park provides protection for the core of the Peninsula, large swaths of incredible forests and rivers remain vulnerable to exploitation.
In 2008, a group of local organizations based on the Olympic Peninsula launched the Wild Olympics campaign to extend protections. Since then, the Wild Olympics campaign has gained momentum with support from the Conservation Alliance, outdoor industry leaders and broad local support across the peninsula leading U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer to introduce the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which is currently making its way through congress.
As summer in the Pacific Northwest hits its stride, the Wild Olympics Campaign and other Olympic Peninsula economic leaders have created a new map that will serve to inspire people to go out and explore the Olympics—the ancient forests and wild rivers that beckon outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities to climb, hike, paddle, mountain bike and ski.
“This partnership came out of a great process involving local communities, businesses and economic leaders of the Olympic Peninsula,” said Mason County Commissioner Terri Jeffreys. “We’ve been at the forefront of diversifying our local economy and promoting our world-class outdoor recreation and stunning natural beauty.”
Destinations featured on the map that would be protected by the Wild Olympics Act include family-friendly hiking among the massive trees of South Quinault Ridge, camping in the Hamma Hamma Valley, mountain biking along the Dungeness River, kayaking the Sol Duc River, and climbing and skiing in the mountains high above the Skokomish River.
“It is easy to see and understand the ecological value of the Wild Olympics idea—conserving clean and free flowing rivers—but what is sometimes missed is the economic value that maintaining places like Wild Olympics brings by attracting people to the special outdoors of the Olympic region,” says State Representative Steve Tharinger, of Sequim whose district includes Jefferson, Clallam and Grays Harbor counties. “I want to thank REI and Patagonia for engaging local community leaders like myself to help design this initiative, and for recognizing that encouraging people to get out and enjoy the special places in the Wild Olympics proposal brings economic benefits to the communities I represent.”