I support the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014. I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, and though I do not currently reside in the state, it is a matter of great pride for me to share it with my fiancée on visits home, and ultimately to some day share it with our children.
I grew up in a wonderland. I didn’t realize it as a child, though I hiked in its ancient forests and canoed on its azure lakes. Arriving in Iowa for graduate school, I found myself overwhelmed by the lack of public lands. When I later moved to Connecticut, I felt much more at home in many ways — there are lush forests, and low, rolling mountains to hike. Yet in much of the Northeast, wilderness spaces have become scattered islands amidst sprawling suburbia.
I have read statements regarding the economic benefits of the proposed bill and the reassurances that it will not affect timber jobs. The implicit assumption, that conservation and industry are intrinsically at odds, is wrong. Commerce and industry have played positive roles in the preservation of key western lands, such as the Pacific Railroad’s lobbying for the protection of Yellowstone in the 1870s — to the railroad’s great profit.
The expansion of the Olympic Wilderness can only benefit the peninsula economically. Furthermore, in this young nation, the land itself has long been foremost among our national treasures. We cannot speak of America as an idea without carrying on the same breath the scent of our forests. The wilderness is America and we should do all we can to preserve what is left of it in our era. That is the highest patriotism.
Windsor Locks, Conn.