A Wild Success Story: Washington’s Wild Sky Gains Protection

Eagle Lake in Wild Sky Wilderness, Washington. Photo by Steven Fey.

If you’re from Seattle, or just a traveler who loves the great outdoors, you’ll be happy to know one more place in Washington state will remain an oasis of wildlands — even with the passage of time.

In June 2008, thanks to dozens of committed groups and individuals, Washington’s Wild Sky Wilderness Area became the state’s first designated wilderness area in more than twenty years.

Only 90 minutes from the bustling Puget Sound metropolis, Wild Sky Wilderness, provides year-round recreational opportunities for everyone from the casual day hiker to the extreme rock climber and contains vital habitat for many aquatic and animal species.

The Wilderness Society was proud to be part of the designation of Wild Sky Wilderness, which resulted after a long, eight-year struggle for passage in Congress.

Now this forested gem, only a hop, skip and a jump away from Seattle, enjoys the government’s highest level of protection for wild areas. Permanent protection of this diverse landscape ensures the ecological future of fish and wildlife throughout the region, safeguards world-class recreational opportunities and helps preserve cold, clear rivers for safe community drinking water.

Wild at last; Eight year struggle pays off

The new Wild Sky Wilderness protects 106,000 acres of forests, rivers, valleys and mountains in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Much of this area is lush, low elevation forest, allowing year-round access for recreationists and protecting vital habitat for wildlife including the American bald eagle, steelhead salmon and black bears.

Work to protect Wild Sky began eight years ago. Congressman Rick Larsen and Senator Patty Murray launched the effort by bringing diverse groups of people throughout the neighboring Sky Valley together and worked with them to develop a wilderness area designation proposal that reflected their input.

The result was a widely supported proposal that won praise from leaders across the state and on Capitol Hill. In addition to the nearly 350 Washington elected officials who voted to pass the legislation to protect Wild Sky, there was tremendous support nationally and in Wild Sky’s home state. All told, 180 Washington-area businesses, more than 150 religious leaders, 29 local hunting and fishing organizations and more than 30 local and national conservation and recreation organizations supported protecting Wild Sky as wilderness.

Endless options for recreation

With 2.5 million people just a stone’s throw away from the area; thousands of visitors come to enjoy the Wild Sky’s world-class rafting, fishing, rock climbing and many spectacular miles of hiking trails. Additionally, visitors and residents alike enjoy Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and many other forms of recreation. Opportunities for adventure are endless in Wild Sky country.