Friday mystery photo

Robin Lakes in the Alpine Wilderness Area.

Jeff Pang, flickr

This photo was taken at Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness is a large, pristine wilderness area spanning the Cascade Range of Washington state. This designated wilderness area is located in parts of Wenatchee National Forest and Snoqualmie National Forest, and is the largest wilderness area near the population centers of Puget Sound, at approximately 390,000 acres.

Photo: Jeff Pang, flickr

September is National Wilderness Month, and we're highlighting some of America's most incredible (and incredibly important) wilderness areas! Take a wilderness photo tour and learn how you can protect it.

Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness features some of the most rugged topography in the Cascade Range with craggy peaks and ridges, deep glacial valleys and granite walls spotted with over 700 mountain lakes. Alpine Lakes is also known for its various climate differences and different types of flora that define the ecoregions in this area. Geological events occurring many years ago created the massively diverse topography and drastic elevation change of the Cascade Range. 

During the Pleistocene period dating back over 2 million years ago, glaciation advancing and retreating repeatedly in this area scoured the landscape leaving deposits of rock debris. The last glacial retreat in the Alpine Lakes area began about 14,000 years ago and.The “U”-shaped cross section of the river valleys are a result of that recent glaciation.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness offers a colorful abundance of diversity in both plant and animal species. This wilderness area and its old growth forests offer critical habitat for many species on the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s “Species of Concern” list which includes the Western spotted frog, the golden eagle, the wolverine, the lynx and the common loon.

This designated wilderness area is incredibly ecologically important, as it boasts pristine water quality and holds portions, or all of, the headwaters for the Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Wenatchee and Yakima Rivers.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness is one of Washington's most popular outdoor recreational areas. Although this area has the wilderness designation and no motorized vehicles (such as cars, motorcycles or even bicycles) can operate in this area, there is heavy foot traffic and camping throughout. The U.S. Forest Service has taken steps to minimize the environmental impacts of heavy recreational use, in order to preserve this area for the enjoyment of future generations.

Photo: Miguel Vieira, flickr

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act

This year, Congress has the opportunity to legislate two important bills that would protect even more of Washington's exquisite Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. 

This acts would protect an additional 22,173 acres of Wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness area and would designate nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River as Wild and Scenic Rivers. As one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country, it contains diverse low-elevation forests with thriving fish and wildlife populations. Sponsored by Dave Reichert (R-WA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D, WA-1).

We are currently working with local partners to get these bills passed and will continue to provide updates on their progress.

View a list of wilderness bills introduced this congress.

Mushroom (Leratiomyces squamosus). Photo: pellaea, flickr

Monkey flower. Photo: pellaea, flickr