Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR CONCERNING H.R. 2642, A BILL TO DESIGNATE AND EXPAND WILDERNESS AREAS IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, AND TO DESIGNATE CERTAIN RIVERS IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST AND OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK AS WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
JULY 10, 2019
Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 2642, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2019.
H.R. 2642, as it pertains to the National Park Service (NPS), amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of various rivers within Olympic National Park as wild, scenic, or recreational rivers. The Department would like to take this opportunity to provide suggestions for this legislation. We defer to the Department of Agriculture on all other portions of the bill.
Olympic National Park contains 3,500 miles of river that are home to 29 species of native freshwater fish and support 70 unique stocks of Pacific salmon and steelhead, including bull trout, which is Federally listed as threatened. The rivers trace their paths through magnificent stands of old growth forest against the backdrop of the glacier-clad Olympic Mountains. They are accessible by miles of hiking trails, and provide recreational enjoyment for legions of visitors each year.
The following rivers addressed in the bill fall fully or partially within the park: Elwha, Dungeness, Dosewallips, Duckabush, Wynoochee, Quinault, Queets, Hoh, Bogachiel, South Fork Calawah, Sol Duc, and Lyre Rivers. H.R. 2642 is consistent with the park’s 2008 General Management Plan, which states that the rivers noted above are eligible for designation as part of the national wild and scenic rivers system and will be managed to prevent any degradation to the resources and values that merit eligibility. The river segments in areas managed by the NPS that are proposed for designation in H.R. 2642 were previously found eligible for designation through NPS eligibility studies.
Under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Secretary would be required to complete a Comprehensive River Management Plan for the rivers within the park designated by H.R. 2642. The Department would like to highlight the challenge of meeting the requirement in Section 3(d) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which mandates Comprehensive River Management Plans three-years after designation. If there was only one river segment, the requirement for a plan in three years could be met. In this case, the NPS would be required to develop plans for more than a dozen rivers simultaneously, which could not be done with available resources. Therefore we suggest exemption from this requirement. We estimate that the plan would cost $300,000 to $400,000.
We recommend that H.R. 2642 be amended to do the following:
We would be happy to work with the Committee and the sponsor to develop these amendments.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement.