Category Archive: Federal Lands

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Senator Murray and Congressman Kilmer Introduce Wild Olympics Bill

OFCO President Connie Gallant (L) and Senator Murray

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries, a total of 464 river miles, as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Designed through extensive community input to protect ancient forests, clean water and salmon streams as well as to enhance outdoor recreation, the legislation would set aside the first new wilderness on Olympic National Forest in nearly three decades and the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. OFCO President Connie Gallant, Campaign Manager for Wild Olympics joined Senator Murray for the press event on May 9. OFCO is a part of the Wild Olympics coalition; follow the Wild Olympics Campaign here.

“I’m proud today to stand with Representative Kilmer and more advocates, elected officials, community leaders, tribes, and businesses than ever before to introduce this important legislation that will protect our priceless wild spaces for generations to come,” said Senator Murray, who first introduced the legislation in 2012.

“As someone who grew up in Port Angeles, I’ve always said that we don’t have to choose between economic growth and protecting our environment. We can and should do both,” said Representative Kilmer. “I’m proud to support this practical, balanced strategy, that will protect the wildest and most pristine places on the Peninsula while ensuring we can keep and grow jobs in our natural resource industries and other sectors. I’m grateful for the partnership of Senator Murray and community leaders from across the region, including small business owners, landowners, environmental advocates, and tribes, who have been dedicated to finding a strategy that works for folks across the entire region.”

See the full press release and testimonials here. Follow S.1382 and companion bill H.R. 2642.

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Latest Science on the Marbled Murrelet: In the Forest and Out on the Water

~ Nick Hatch

OFCO Board Member Fayette Krause posed this question to the Marbled Murrelet Coalition: Why are Washington’s Marbled Murrelets declining much more rapidly than California, Oregon or Alaska? The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station released a study on Washington’s Marbled Murrelets in part to answer the question.

The Marbled Murrelet nests in old-growth condition trees, with large nest “platforms” padded with a thick layer of moss, and protected from open forest edges that would allow corvids to predate on the single egg and then the hatchling chick. Using telemetry and tracking devices on 157 birds over five years between 2004 and 2008, the research showed only 20 pairs attempted nesting, and only four fledged successfully.

The research hoped to connect both the key habitats—forest and marine—to learn about the decline of the population and to inform conservation efforts. The study concluded that decreasing nesting habitat and marine feeding habitat in greater distance from nesting habitat contributed to population decline. In Washington, the range of nesting habitat was found to be an order of magnitude larger than areas in Alaska, where the birds are not a threatened species. The report: “Inside Their Hidden World: Tracking the Elusive Marbled Murrelet.”

OFCO Board Member Karen Sullivan, a marine biologist, is conducting an extensive literature gap survey on the marine habitat for the murrelet to be published in 2020–21. Naval operations in the Salish Sea area are of concern in the decline for prey fish and impacts on murrelets. Salish Sea Wild’s video on the Marbled Murrelet is one to watch to understand the marine habitat for the murrelet. The segment is “The Risky Business of Saving Seabirds.” Intrepid scientists are out on the water in inclement weather searching for and tagging Marbled Murrelets and collecting samples to determine what is happening with the murrelet diet.

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On the Banks of the River of Hope – The Elwha’s Lost Mile

Olympic Hot Springs Access Road Project – Elwha River
credit: P. Jones

The Elwha River Restoration Program is one of the few restoration programs that serves both as a visionary, successful effort to restore a watershed from the headwaters to the estuary—and as a model for what may be accomplished by dam removal. Essayist and poet Tim McNulty, Vice President of the Olympic Park Associates writes of this incredible process in his “Letter to America.”

Thus far the hopes for the river to come back have been realized. Unexpected is the very dynamic changes in the river. As the Elwha finds its natural course it traverses the valley floor, and impacted a mile of the access road and campgrounds. OFCO supports the goal of full restoration of the Elwha watershed, including access for recreation and research purposes, and is asking the Olympic National Park (see Project page here) to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement to better ensure that the new bypass road is designed and constructed to minimize impacts to the river, its fisheries, threatened and endangered species, historic sites and cultural resources, and to the mature and old-growth forest in the Project area. See OFCO’s comments here.

Rob Smith (NPCA – L) and Tim McNulty (OPA – Center) speak to Olympic National Park and Federal Highways staff about access road to Olympic Hot Springs in the Elwha River Restoration area. credit: P Jones

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Pollinators, Birds, Fish Lose in the Battle Over Preserving Natural Soundscapes of the Olympic Peninsula – Learn More

OFCO partners with the National Park Conservation Associates to host three educational events on the impacts of the Navy expansion of training in the Olympic Wilderness areas. Learn the latest updates and action needed now in Forks (March 19), Port Angeles (March 20) and Port Townsend (March 21). RSVP; where and when on the poster below.


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Olympic Forest Coalition Submits Comment on Marbled Murrelet Long-Term Conservation Strategy and Federal Permit

OFCO contributed to a joint comment submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Natural Resources on the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet and the permit for incidental take of endangered species on state-managed forested trust lands. The Marbled Murrelet Coalition submitted the comment.

Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC) led the key scientific and policy portion of the comments, and Conservation Northwest and Washington Environmental Council led the economic impacts analysis. Experts Dr. Kara Whittaker, David Lank and Mike Ruth provided the science and geospatial analysis. Experts Ernie Niemi and Paula Swedeen provided economic analysis. Peter Goldman, WFLC, provided the legal analysis. See the full comment here. Thank you to all OFCO members and supporters who also submitted comments.