Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2015
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, CONCERNING S. 1510, 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.
APRIL 21, 2016
Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1510, 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.
Because all of the wilderness additions and some of the wild and scenic river designations are on National Forest lands, our comments are limited to the proposed wild and scenic river designations under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. With respect to those proposed designations, the Department supports S. 1510 with amendments.
S. 1510, as it pertains to the National Park Service, amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate as wild, scenic, or recreational rivers, segments of various rivers within Olympic National Park. The following rivers addressed in the act fall fully or partially within the national park: Elwha, Dungeness, Dosewallips, Duckabush, Wynoochee, Quinault, Queets, Hoh, Bogachiel, South Fork Calawah, Sol Duc, and Lyre Rivers.
According to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, free-flowing rivers that contain remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values merit preservation as part of the national wild and scenic rivers system. The rivers within Olympic National Park meet these criteria. 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 the federally threatened bull trout. 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 and residents each year. Although the park’s rivers are already well-protected by their inclusion in both Olympic National Park and the Olympic Wilderness, their designation as wild and scenic rivers would further recognize and protect their outstanding values.
S. 1510 is consistent with the park’s 2008 General Management Plan, which states that park rivers eligible for designation as part of the national wild and scenic rivers system will be managed to prevent any degradation to the resources and values that merit eligibility. An eligibility study of rivers in the park was done in 1989, and some conditions have changed since then. The NPS would like to review and update that study before final classifications are given to river segments.
Accordingly, we recommend that S. 1510 be amended to do the following:
We would be happy to work with the committee to develop these amendments.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement.