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Introducing the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Scenic Rivers Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Speaker. Today I am proud to be introducing the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic River Act of 2012, which will provide critical protection of key forested areas and rivers in the State of Washington. This bill, a result of more than two years of work by my staff and the staff of Washington Senator PATTY MURRAY, is a consensus effort that adds critical protection for sources of clean drinking water and preserves critical salmon and steelhead habitat. It creates more than 126,000 acres of new wilderness on the Olympic National Forest and designates 19 new Wild and Scenic Rivers and their tributaries in the National Forest, in Olympic National Park and on Washington Department of Natural Resources land.

I am particularly proud that the final version of this bill that is being introduced today has evolved through a long consultative process that included extensive local community input from Tribes, conservation groups, timber communities, business leaders, shellfish growers, farmers, local elected officials, hunters, anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, federal and state land managers and the general public. The result, in my judgment, is a common sense solution that offers permanent protection to some of the most spectacular of the Olympic Peninsula's public lands--without having a significant impact on timber jobs or recreational access.

In our great state of Washington, Mr. Speaker, we cherish the ability of our citizens to have access to the natural beauty of our region, especially areas that remain pristine and undisturbed. Our challenge as leaders of a growing population has been to assure that the most sensitive of these areas are protected from development so that future generations--our kids and their kids--have the same ability that we have had to see the magnificent vistas and enjoy the benefits of a clean environment. The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic River Act of 2012 represents an important incremental step in assuring the protection of additional roadless areas in Washington, and I will be working with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee to urge timely consideration of this legislation.

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