Daniel J. Evans Olympic National Park Wilderness Act
STATEMENT OF DR. STEPHANIE TOOTHMAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS, AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 3028, TO REDESIGNATE THE OLYMPIC WILDERNESS AREA AS THE DANIEL J. EVANS WILDERNESS.
JUNE 15, 2016
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 3028, a bill to re-designate the Olympic Wilderness as the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness.
The Department supports S. 3028. The proposed bill would change the name of the Olympic Wilderness in Olympic National Park to the “Daniel J. Evans Wilderness” after former Washington Governor and Senator Daniel Evans, who was the sponsor of the 1988 legislation that created the Olympic Wilderness.
The Olympic Wilderness is Washington State’s largest wilderness area and is one of the most diverse in the United States. It encompasses 876,447 acres managed by the National Park Service within Olympic National Park. It is bordered by the Buckhorn Wilderness to the northeast, the Brothers Wilderness to the east, the Mount Skokomish Wilderness to the southeast, the Wonder Mountain Wilderness to the south, and the Colonel Bob Wilderness to the south and east.
The heart of the Olympic Wilderness is made up of the rugged Olympic Mountains and some of the most pristine forests south of the 49th parallel. The temperate rainforest valleys of the mountains’ west and south flanks receive 140 to 180 inches of precipitation annually. Mount Olympus (7,980 feet), the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains, receives more than 100 feet of snow annually. Mount Olympus has the third largest glacial system in the conterminous United States after Mounts Rainier and Baker, which are also located in Washington state.
The Olympic Wilderness contains 48 miles of wilderness coast with its beaches, rugged headlands, tide pools, seastacks and coastal rainforests. Just over 600 miles of trails lead into the interior of the park. The Olympic Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness destinations in North America, with more than 40,000 overnight wilderness visitors each year.
The Olympic Wilderness is part of the Olympic World Heritage Site designated by the World Heritage Convention in 1981. The park is also designated as an International Biosphere Reserve (1976).
The proposed bill would require that all maps and references to the Olympic Wilderness be changed to reflect the new name. The costs for such changes are expected to be nominal if the agency is permitted to incorporate the name change concurrent with future routine updates to signs, periodicals, and maps.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you and the other members of the subcommittee may have.