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Last Dam Summer Party boosts Olympic National Park

Residents can celebrate the final summer of the Elwha River dams in Olympic National Park at the “Last Dam Summer Party” from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, May 27, at the new Holiday Inn Express in Sequim.

Proceeds will support education, preservation and protection efforts at Olympic National Park. Tickets cost $35 per person.

The evening will feature appetizers and desserts highlighting Olympic Culinary Loop Association members; an auction with travel packages, artwork, dining opportunities and more; entertainment by Therapy Session from Forks; and a special appearance by a national park yellow bus.

To purchase tickets or donate an auction item, visit lastdamsummer.org.

Beginning in 2011, dam removal will restore the Elwha River to its natural free-flowing state, allowing five species of Pacific salmon to once again reach habitat and spawning grounds closed to them for a century.



Sustainable tourism

Olympic National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981, is internationally recognized for the diversity of its ecosystems, which boast a temperate rainforest, alpine meadows and a pristine coastline. The park is one of 890 treasures of the world identified as World Heritage sites for their outstanding value to humanity.

The event will be at the newly opened Sequim Holiday Inn Express, operated by Wirta Hospitality Worldwide, a member of the World Heritage Alliance that promotes sustainable tourism and local economic development of World Heritage sites.

Bret Wirta, the company’s CEO, said the term “sustainable tourism” evokes up images of adventures in the rain forests of Costa Rica and bicycling around Europe.

However, the vast majority of travel time and dollars are spent in hotels like the Sequim Holiday Inn Express, he said, and added that if people truly want to change the global footprint, they must shift to a smaller, more mainstream tourism scale.

Save ‘just a little bit’
Wirta tells other hotel partners that changing their practices and becoming more environmentally responsible would have a huge impact.

“Just do a little bit of your part,” he said.

“You don’t have to save the world, just a little bit of it.”

The Olympic Culinary Loop Association showcases Olympic Coast Cuisine by bringing together the region’s culinary interests from farm to table and supporting a local distribution system that reduces their carbon footprint.

The May 27 event will feature chefs from the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, Lake Quinault Lodge and Kalaloch Lodge preparing appetizers from local ingredients.

Donated food
Food will be donated by Nash’s Organic Produce, Sequim; Short’s Family Farm, Chimacum; Wild West Seafood and Mushrooms; Little Skookum Shellfish Growers; and Ocean Crest Resort, Moclips.

Dessert will feature Elevated Ice Cream from Port Townsend and wine selections will include those from Olympic Cellars and other Olympic Peninsula wineries.

Association president Peter Becker said his group has a special attachment to Olympic National Park as the region’s biggest tourist draw.

“We ask visitors for three, three and sleep — experience three excursions, eat three meals a day and sleep in our local lodgings,” said Becker, who also owns the Little Skookum Shellfish Growers.

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