Adding to the Alpine Lakes
On the heels of passage of a sweeping national wilderness bill, the Omniubs Public Lands Act, two members of Washington's congressional delegation are re-introducing a bill to add 22,000 acres to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Cascades.
Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Dave Reichert are teaming up to sponsor the legislation, which would add protection for lands in the Pratt River drainage, in addition to areas along the I-90 corridor. Wilderness is the highest protection Congress can offer, with wheels and motorized vehicles prohibited. The bill would also include Wild and Scenic River designation for the Pratt River and--new in this legislation--the Middle Fork Snoqualmie.
Reichert was the sponsor of the original Alpine Lakes additions proposal in 2007. The Republican congressman has been a notable backer of wilderness. He broke with most members of his party by voting for the recent Omnibus Public Lands Act, which designated about 2 million acres of wilderness nationwide and gave National Scenic Trail status to the Pacific Northwest Trail and Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail.
You can read more about over 200,000 acres of new wilderness recently set aside in Oregon in this article in the Oregonian.
Is it time for an ominbus wilderness bill for Washington state? We certainly have lots of candidates for inclusion: Alpine Lakes additions, additions to the Mount Baker Wilderness and North Cascades National Park, a proposal to protect the Columbia Highlands of the Colville National Forest, and the future Dark Divide Wilderness.