Endangered species - 'green' Republican - spotted at ocean

The Republicans' 2016 gubernatorial nominee Bill Bryant: He has just led a backpack trip to protest Trump administration plan to allow oil and gas drilling in our Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

 

The Republican conservationist, a species plentiful a century ago in the era of Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, has fallen in danger of extinction.

 

Worthy of note, then, is a confirmed recent sighting on ocean beaches of Olympic National Park..

 

As the Trump Administration prepared to roll out its "dirty power plan," and give new life to old polluting coal plants, 2016 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant was leading a three-day walk to protect park beaches.

 

The ex-gubernatorial candidate was protesting a Trump administration plan that would open the coastal waters of West Coast states -- including the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- to oil and gas exploration.

 

It's not likely to happen, but Bryant was about tapping the heritage of both political parties.

 

Theodore Roosevelt was first to extend protection by creating wildlife sanctuaries along the Olympic Coast. Roosevelt created an Olympic National Monument to prevent extinction of the elk that now bear his name.

 

A distant cousin and Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt, later toured the Peninsula -- for a guy in a wheelchair, he got around -- and created an Olympic National Park that now totals more than 900,000 acres.

 

The ocean strip of the park was threatened, 60 years ago, by plans to build a road along the wilderness coastline.

 

Activists from Olympic Park Associates hiked the beaches in protest. Twice, in 1958 -- 60 years ago -- and 1963, they had U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas for company.

 

Bill Bryant launched onto the 60th anniversary of "Wild Bill's" first hike.

 

The Bryant party discovered, however, a new problem along the Coast that demands immediate attention.

 

"The entire focus of Preserve the Wild (name of hike) transformed over its three days," Bryant wrote on his Facebook page. "We began as a hike protesting oil drilling in our Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, commemorating the 60th anniversary of a similar hike led by Justice Douglas. (It) became a mission to rescue WA's wild beaches from plastic."

 

The protest hike was transformed on its last day to a litter pickup, and the backpackers reached the end of their trip laden with litter bags.

 

"The wild beaches in our backyard are our responsibility to protect for future generations and they are littered with plastic washing ashore," Bryant wrote.

 

The party came away resolved to monitor its own use of plastics. And Bryant will be back on the coast in 2019, on a mission designed to clean up the coast.

 

It's unlikely he will be recognized at this fall's "Breakfast of Champions" by Washington Conservation Voters, which has turned into a Democratic pep rally lionizing "green" Governor Jay Inslee.

 

Surely, Democratic ringers will note that Bryant cast a vote for letting Shell Oil use Seattle as base port for its (disastrous) effort to find oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.

 

Still, Bryant is an outdoor activist who has turned his vacation place in the Methow Valley into a Theodore Roosevelt shrine, and who regularly lectures on Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Conservation-minded Republicans helped give us the North Cascades National Park (Gov. Dan Evans), the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area (Evans and U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard), the Washington Wilderness Act (U.S. Sens. Evans, Slade Gorton and Rep. Sid Morrison) and the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area (Evans, Gorton and a courageous Morrison).

 

The species can't get much respect in either party these days, and environmental organizations -- such as League of Conservation Voters -- are now virtual Democratic appendages.

 

Bryant did not emulate Douglas in one respect. The 63-year-old justice brought 21-year-old third bride Joanie Martin along on the 1963 beach hike.

 

Douglas' air mattress sprang a leak. He promptly appropriated that of his new wife. The marriage did not last.

 

If you would like more information on my hike, to see photos from the three days, or if you'd like information on next year's hike, please go to PreserveTheWild.net.

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