More wilderness for Washington state?

March was a historic month for wilderness with the passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. Continuing in our great tradition of protecting wild places, I wanted to share some exciting news in the North Cascades of Washington State.

Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Dave Reichert have introduced legislation that would add 22,000 acres of low elevation forest to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Seattle and provide Wild and Scenic Rivers protection on two rivers, the Pratt and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie.

This is truly bipartisan legislation as our state’s senior Democrat Senator partnered with a suburban Republican Congressman to jointly introduce the bill. It also sends a strong message about the importance of conservation, recreation, and community, the elements that make up our North Cascades Initiative.

“Conservation and preservation of our natural resources reflects the values I grew up with here in Washington State,” said Sen. Murray. “I want to leave the same kind of legacy for my grandson and for future generations to enjoy.” Congressman Reichert added, “We must do our part to preserve land, not just in faraway places, but in our own backyard here in Washington State.”

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness destinations in the country. The additions bring lower elevation forests into wilderness designation to preserve them for future generations and provide easy access for many to a truly wild experience.

For the past two years, the Pacific Northwest team and our Washington D.C. colleagues along with The Wilderness Support Center have worked closely with a broad coalition of conservation organizations to lay the groundwork for this legislation. It’s exciting to have a new piece of legislation moving forward so quickly after the passage of the Omnibus bill.

photo: Fireweed blooming at the head of the Pratt River Valley with Bessemer Mountain in the background. Photo by Harry Romberg.