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Council won't decide yet on Wild Olympics proposal

October 3rd, 2012 - 5:36am

(Port Angeles) -- The Port Angeles City Council chambers were crowded last night with people wanting to speak their piece on the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Scenic Rivers Act.

The council had earlier said they would hear comments on the proposed act, and would consider taking a position. The proposed legislation would designate nearly 200 square miles of new wilderness in Olympic National Forest. The bill also would put 19 rivers under wild and scenic river protections.

The majority of those speaking to the Port Angeles council were in favor of the act.

Bob Lynette of Sequim, spoke for the North Olympic Group of the Sierra Club. He told the council the act would improve the environment locally and add tourism jobs. He also contended the timber industry would benefit as well.

But others disagreed. Dick Pilling, president of the Port Angeles Business Association, said the new wilderness area would be off limits to everyone, with little access. He also said the risk of major wildfires would increase due to lack of access.

Former Port Angeles mayor and forester Glenn Wiggins and forester Harry Bell told the council they disagree the bill will help the local timber industry.

Councilman Max Mania moved the council endorse the proposal, backed by Sissi Bruch. The other four members voted to table the motion, for further study.

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