Letter to the Editor
Before I begin, let me make one thing crystal clear to everyone on the Olympic Peninsula. Had Harold Brunstad, Dan Boeholt, and Bill Pickell not alerted us here in Grays Harbor County to the threat that the Wild Olympics campaign posed to us, we probably would still be in the dark. This discovery forced the hand of Congressman Norm Dicks and the Wild Olympics organization, and they HAD to begin informing the citizenry of Grays Harbor of their land grab. These people covertly held over 200 meetings around the peninsula in over two years! And now, in all their arrogance, they expect us to believe that they want to be “open and transparent”?
Our former commissioner, Al Carter, a consultant for this crusade, apparently forgot to talk to the residents of the Upper Quinault River Valley on their feelings toward this debacle. We stand united against it Al! And we would have appreciated the courtesy of a prompt notification informing us of the intentions of this campaign.
We are far behind them in our planning and organization, but things are happening, and the Working Wild Olympics campaign is gaining momentum.
I won’t echo the words of the many others who have commented here on their objections to this land-grabbing, jobs-killing proposal. I have no use for this proposal. The federal government cannot properly manage the vast acreage that they occupy on the peninsula as it is!
Neither the federal government nor the Wild Olympics campaign will admit it, but they have every intention of removing us all from the Upper Quinault Valley. Their “willing seller” program, which they are so proud to praise, has been engaged here in the valley since the inception of Olympic National Park.
The willing seller program has reduced our Upper Quinault Valley from 300+ residents in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s to 131 year-round residents today. Our high school has dropped from 126 students to 81 in that same time span.
Not everyone is aware that a Wild and Scenic River designation for the Quinault River makes it lawful to take our property through condemnation. If our river is designated as Wild and Scenic, we need not be “willing sellers” to be removed!
The two government bureaucracies, to which we would be surrendering our property and homes, should this Wild Olympics fiasco actually happen, are The Department of Interior; the administrator of Olympic National Park and the Army Corps of Engineers, and The Department of Agriculture; the administrating agency for the U.S. Forest Service.
Now, let me give you some examples of how these two bureaucracies “administer” their lands.
In 2001 and 2002 Olympic National Park and the Army Corps of Engineers deliberately and illegally blocked the channel of Finley Creek, a major tributary of the Upper Quinault River. This thoughtless act caused Finley Creek to enter the Quinault River over a half-mile upriver of its old mouth. This channel “alteration” began the erosion of property on the south side of the Upper Quinault River that still continues. To date, over fifteen acres and a home have been lost to the river due to this irrational act.
This isn’t the first time Olympic National Park has been involved in such a fiasco. In the 1980’s they altered the channel of the Upper Quinault River itself, causing the loss of thousands of salmon and steelhead fingerlings.
Since the December 2007 windstorm the Colonel Bob/Ewells Creek Trail has been impassible. The trail has the unfortunate circumstance of being inside the Colonel Bob Wilderness. Wilderness designation brings with it a myriad of regulations, one of which precludes the use of motorized tools, i.e. power saws, winches. The U.S. Forest Service has not given a date that the trail might be realistically opened!
The U.S. Government is not a qualified steward of our lands. It has proven itself inadequate, and at times unwise, in their attempts at management.
Enough is enough Congressman Dicks! We don’t need your legacy built on the blood, sweat, and tears of the residents of Quinault and the citizens of the Olympic Peninsula. -Kieth Olson