SHELTON — U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., are floating a proposal to add roughly 130,000 acres to wilderness areas to the Olympic National Forest. Their staffs were in Shelton Friday for public feedback before drafting a bill to accomplish that goal.
The plan would take existing federal forest land surrounding the Olympic National Park and tighten the managerial restrictions however much of these forest would be left in its current condition. Logging would be eliminated and hiking would remain.
These forests have numerous U.S. Forest Service roads already earmarked for closure, which would still take place. Some forest service roads would remain intact — the only ones that would allow mountain bikes and motorized vehicles. However, hikers might have longer walks into the wilderness from where they can park vehicles.
As part of the 130,000 acres are five segments of land totaling about 20,000 acres targeted to become “preserves.” In these areas, if the private owners were to sell to the federal government, the government would manage the land in a manner less restrictive than as an official wilderness.
About 400 Olympic Peninsula residents from various groups made the original proposal. So far, the original proposal has been trimmed after some initial feedback by the tribes and other agencies and groups, said Kristine Reeves, Kitsap and Olympic Peninsula director on Murray’s staff.
The Department of Natural Resources announced on December 1, it will reopen two campgrounds west of Belfair in Tahuya State Forest — Camp Spilman and Kammenga.
Budget cuts closed the campgrounds two years ago but received grant funding from the Non-highway and Off-road Vehicle Activities program. The new funding will help pay for enforcement, maintenance and staffing. Crews from the Mission Creek Corrections Center will help maintain the facilities and trails and will installing small bridges where needed.
This is an area made popular with off-road trail riding. See a video made last year.
Visitors can start camping Jan. 6 at the Tahuya River Horse Camp on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to download a map of the park