Washington, Nevada wilderness protections in House bills now under consideration

The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness (Washington).

Credit: Wilderness.net.

Two bills passed in a House Committee will protect wilderness and recreation opportunities in Washington and Nevada if they become law.

Two bills marked up by the House Natural Resources Committee on July 30 would protect land in Nevada’s Pine Grove Hills and Pine Forest Range and near Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Details on the bills:

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Protection Act

The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Credit: Steve Boutcher via Wilderness.net.

Introduced by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), H.R. 361 would protect around 22,000 acres of wildlands adjacent to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness, as well as adding sections of the Pratt River and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the National Wild and Scenic River System.

These protections contain diverse low-elevation forests with thriving fish and wildlife populations, including cougars, black bear, elk and native trout. The existing wilderness area is one of the most visited in the country, and a haven for the residents of nearby Seattle. The bill enjoys broad local support, including religious leaders, sportsmen, local businesses and outdoor recreationists. The Senate version of the bill passed in June of 2013.

Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act

East Walker River, part of which runs through the proposed Wovoka Wilderness Area in Lyon County, Nevada. Credit: Warren Jackson, flickr.

H.R. 5205, introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), and containing legislation introduced by Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) would establish the Pine Forest Range and Wovoka Wilderness Areas, which are supported by The Wilderness Society.

The Wovoka Wilderness would comprise some 48,000 acres of central Nevada’s Pine Grove Hills between the Sweetwater Mountains and Wassuk Range, containing critical wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation resources.  A previous version of this bill contained provisions that threatened to undermine the integrity of wilderness areas, jeopardize public safety and threaten natural resources. While some of those issues have been addressed, others remain. The Wilderness Society is calling on Congress to modify the legislation to ensure that it maintains the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Read more about The Wilderness Society's position on these bills

Learn more about how land is protected as wilderness