Senate passes first wilderness bills of the 113th Congress

Jun 19, 2013

Pratt Valley and Hiker

Harry Romberg
The Wilderness Society applauds passage and looks forward to House
The Wilderness Society tonight applauded the passage of five wilderness and conservation bills in the U.S. Senate. We are hopeful that the passage is a sign of things to come in the House, as the previous Congress – the 112th – was the first since 1966 to not designate a single new acre of wilderness.  
 
The wilderness and conservation bills that passed include: 
 
Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 112). Passage of this bill would protect an additional 22,000 acres of wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and would add 10 miles of the Pratt River and nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The area is rich in recreational opportunities like hiking, rafting, fishing and climbing – and is only a 45 minute drive from the greater Seattle area. The Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie are outstanding, world-class rivers that deserve lasting protections.
 
“The Wilderness Society is incredibly thankful to Sen. Patty Murray, who has been championing the Alpine Lakes bill in Congress for the past four years,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, Pacific Northwest regional representative for The Wilderness Society. “She’s worked tirelessly for this bill and it’s great to see it jump one more hurdle in Congress. Thanks to the hard work and dedication by members of our Washington delegation, Sen. Murray, House bill sponsor Rep. Dave Reichert and cosponsors Sen. Cantwell, Rep. DelBene, Rep. Smith and Rep. McDermott, these special places have a real chance of being protected for future generations to enjoy. We’re hopeful that by the end of the year, we’ll be celebrating new wilderness in Washington state.”
 
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 23) would protect 32,557 acres of wilderness. Located on Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a popular getaway where hikers, hunters, anglers and boaters come to experience nature. The area includes a diverse array of natural landscapes, from the towering dunes themselves to quiet inland lakes, beech and sugar maple forests, and rocky shorelines - all-important habitat for native wildlife and plants. 
 
The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 352) would designate approximately 30,540 acres of National Forest and BLM lands in the central Oregon Coast Range into the National Wilderness Preservation System. It would also include roughly 14.6 miles of Wasson and Franklin Creeks into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Perfect for the adventurous explorer, the Devil’s Staircase area is one of the most remote and intact old-growth stands in Oregon’s coastal range. The area’s namesake is a series of cascading pools, hidden deep within the heart of Wassen Creek near Reedsport, Oregon. The forest is so remote that it escaped much of the coastal logging of past decades.
 
Illabot Creek Wild & Scenic River (S. 383) would amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a segment of Illabot Creek in Skagit County as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (WA) and co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA). 
 
White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Expansion Act of 2013 (S. 393) would designate additional segments and tributaries of White Clay Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons (DE) and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (DE). 
 
“People across the United States care about having access to clean drinking water and healthy air, and wilderness protects our air and water,” said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations for lands The Wilderness Society. “We are witnessing a groundswell of support for wilderness, and we thank Michigan Senators Levin and Stabenow and Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley for working with their constituents to protect these incredible places.” 
 
All five have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and The Wilderness Society is hopeful that they will also become law this year.  To see a full list of wilderness bills in the 113th Congress, visit: http://wilderness.org/article/113th-congress-wilderness-bills
 
Alan Rowsome
(202) 285-8134