Speaking Up Regarding the Incident in Forks

Like many of you, we were horrified to hear of a terrifying and disturbing incident that occurred on June 3 near Forks on the Olympic Peninsula. The Mountaineers led an effort with partners in the outdoor recreation community to support local condemnation of the events. We believe that everyone has a right to feel welcome and safe outdoors - and we are committed to speaking up when those rights are violated.
Betsy Robblee Betsy Robblee
Conservation & Advocacy Director
June 23, 2020

On June 3, 2020, a multiracial family was harassed, intimidated, and trapped by intentionally felled logs over the road in a public forest camping area near Forks. Fortunately, other local residents and high school-age youth were in the area and had tools to clear the road, and sheriff deputies escorted the family safely back to the highway. 

The family wanted only to enjoy a rejuvenating weekend camping together. Millions of people, including Mountaineers members, come to the forests and beaches to enjoy the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula every year. No one expects, nor should have to consider, being victimized in the outdoors. 

An outpouring of support for the victims from the greater Forks community came as a result of the incident. Local citizens raised thousands of dollars to purchase newspaper ads decrying the incident and apologizing to the family involved, which were signed by hundreds of people. We believe it’s important for the outdoor recreation community to join local voices in condemning these events, and reached out to other partner organizations to initiate a statement. 

Working in partnership with nonprofit organizations, land managers, and businesses is a critical element of The Mountaineers advocacy work: our voice is much more powerful when we join together. We’re fortunate to have strong relationships with groups like the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, Washington Trails Association, and many others. Following the Forks incident, a member of our Equity and Inclusion Working Group drafted a statement and Mountaineers staff asked our partners to sign on. 

Along with 23 other organizations and businesses, we sent a Letter to the Editor to several newspapers in support of the local community’s condemnation of the events. We urged the Clallam County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and hold those responsible accountable. Our organizations are committed to equity, inclusion, and encouraging access for everyone who visits our public lands and communities. As the letter says (below), we will all work together to end racism and the threat of violence in our communities and our nation, so that the outdoors can truly be enjoyed by all. 

Letter to the Editor

The terrifying experience of a multiracial family trying to camp near Forks are of deep concern to our organizations and members. We support the condemnation of these events by the citizens of Forks and the Olympic Peninsula, including an ad that ran on June 11. With them, we urge the Clallam County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate this incident, hold accountable those responsible, and take steps to assure that this never happens again. 

Our organizations are committed to equity and inclusion. Everyone has a right to feel safe outdoors and on their journey there and back. We must all work together to end racism and the threat of violence in our communities and our nation, so that the outdoors can truly be enjoyed by all.

The Mountaineers
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition
Oregon Trails Coalition
the Service Board
Recreation Northwest
Washington Outdoor Business Alliance
The Wilderness Society
Experiential Consulting, LLC 
National Parks Conservation Association
Washington Alpine Club
Washington Climbers Coalition
Trout Unlimited
Pacific Northwest Trail Association
Access Fund
Olympic Peninsula Climbers
Interim Community Development Association
Pandion Consulting & Facilitation
Adventure Travel Trade Association 
Washington Trails Association
Olympic Park Associates
Transformational Travel Council
ROAM Beyond
Great Old Broads for Wilderness Polly Dyer Chapter

Main image of Olympic National Forest. Photo by Samantha Sanders.

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Terry Campbell
Terry Campbell says:
Jun 23, 2020 07:59 AM

What happened to the jerks that felled the trees? Appears the Sheriffs department is not doing anything. In a small town they certainly know who is responsible.

Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel says:
Jun 24, 2020 04:30 PM

If you want to put pressure on the sheriff's office you can contact them and ask. Phone: 360-417-2262
Mailing Address: 223 East 4th Street, Suite 12
Port Angeles, WA 98362-3015

Mark Crosson
Mark Crosson says:
Jun 24, 2020 12:54 PM

Small town sheriffs, eek! I used to live in Port Townsend. I don’t know what it’s like now but 70’s were bad. Husband claimed his estranged wife left for California even after they found her car and purse in a ravine. No investigation.

Cheri Vallellanes
Cheri Vallellanes says:
Jun 25, 2020 05:45 AM

When this story first came out these "campers" had absolutely not one piece of camping gear for this big ole camping trip.... Don't believe everything you read some just one to jump on the band wagon and be relevant