Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Wilderness Act. Designed to keep America’s last wild places forever wild, more than 109 million acres of federal lands are legally protected as wilderness, including 95 percent of Olympic National Park and parts of the Olympic National Forest that surround the park.

With no development and only nonmotorized recreation allowed, the highly protected wilderness areas are havens for people and wildlife.

Olympic National Park plans a “Wilderness Weekend” at locations around the park for the Sept. 6-7 weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the legislation. Events will be posted at Park entrance fees will be waived on Sept. 6 as part of the Wilderness Weekend.

A bill has been introduced in Congress to expand wilderness areas on the Olympic Peninsula, adding about 125,000 acres, and to protect some rivers by designating them as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

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Wild Olympics, a coalition of local and national citizen/outdoor groups (, strongly supports the expansion. Some locals and timber-industry groups strongly oppose it, including the American Forest Resource Council ( See the bill’s text/status at