The case for Alpine Lakes

As someone who has explored hundreds of river miles across the country and around the world, I can confidently say that we have some of the most spectacular river resources of any place in the world. Protecting the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is an important step toward preserving recreational opportunities for hikers, fishermen and paddlers desiring rare opportunities for solitude and exploration close to downtown Seattle. - 


Thomas O'Keefe


In 1976, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress and has become one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. Now, there is an opportunity to permanently protect and additional 22,100 acres of this popular recreation destination. Congressionally-designated Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River Designations are the strongest and most durable means to ensure that the glacier-cut valleys, snowcapped peaks, old-growth forests and whitewater rivers of the entire 9.5-mile Pratt River and 27.5-mile reach of the Middle and South Fork Snoqualmie Valleys are preserved for current and future generations.

Few rivers anywhere in the country can match the quality of recreational, scenic, and ecological resources that the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and its major tributary that the Pratt River provides.

Benefits of Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Designation

  • PROTECTING rare low elevation forests—approximately half of the lands protected by the Alpine Lakes additions proposal are below 3,000 feet in elevation.
  • ENHANCING recreational opportunities for hiking, camping, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking and wildlife viewing as well as protecting large areas of accessible lowland forests which provide hunting and fishing opportunities.
  • PRESERVING the wildlife habitats of elk and deer populations, cougars, bears, bobcats and trout.
  • BENEFITING residents by preserving clean water and ensuring protection of the ecosystem. 

What Wilderness Designation Will Do

  • PROHIBIT dams and other water projects that would impair the free-flow of the river.
  • ESTABLISH a protected corridor extending ¼ mile from the high-water mark on both sides of the river.
  • REQUIRE the managing federal agency to work with stakeholders to ensure that the river remains protected.   
  • DEVELOP a cooperative river management plan within three years of designation.

What designation Will Not Do

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act carries no authority to affect the zoning of private lands. At one time much of the Middle Fork and Pratt river valleys were privately owned but today only a few small in holdings remain with all of the Pratt River in public ownership.