U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA8) have reintroduced their Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act along with cosponsors Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA1). This legislation would expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic.
"Representing a state that is home to tremendous natural beauty and many recreation enthusiasts is truly an honor. That's why I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Reichert, Senator Cantwell and Congresswoman DelBene to protect and expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness," said Senator Patty Murray. "I am committed to making sure that this pristine environment is preserved as a legacy for generations to come."
"Washington State is instantly recognizable thanks to our unmatched landscapes. The lines of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, the clear waters of our many lakes and rivers, and Mount Rainier towering above all, serve as constant reminders of the natural paradise Washingtonians call home," said Reichert. "An expanded Alpine Lakes Wilderness builds on Washington's strong bipartisan tradition of protecting our precious resources and preserving recreational opportunities. I am proud to continue this effort with Senators Murray and Cantwell, and to be joined by Congresswoman DelBene. Our legislation provides an opportunity to protect important wildlife habitats, existing outdoor opportunities, and local economies that rely on both. We must continue to work together to preserve our natural heritage for the generations to come."
"Just 45 minutes from Seattle, Alpine Lakes is a tremendous resource for our region," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "It's also a part of the rich quality of life that allows us to compete for the best talent in the country. Preserving this wilderness is critical to ensuring a clean water supply and protecting wildlife, and it enhances recreational opportunities and contributes to the local economy. I look forward to moving this bill forward in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and working with Senator Murray to preserve the Alpine Lakes wilderness for future generations."
"The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness is already one of the most beautiful and ecologically significant stretches of natural lands in the nation. What makes it even more unique is its proximity to major urban population centers, making it an important part of why living in the Pacific Northwest is so special," said DelBene. "I'm honored to join Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert in their bipartisan efforts to expand and protect these critically important wild lands. This proposed expansion would further protect critical fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and some of the best outdoor recreational areas in the country."
The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976 by the late Congressman Lloyd Meeds and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. It is one of the closest blocks of wild forests to an urban center in the country and provides diverse recreational opportunities. Key elements of the new Alpine Lakes legislation include:
Providing the protection of the Wilderness Act of 1964 for the lower elevation lands, which will bring a richer diversity of ecosystems, including deeply forested valleys, into the wilderness area and increase its overall biodiversity. The addition of these 21,000 acres of public land into wilderness has the direct effect of protecting a broader array of outdoor recreational opportunities easily accessible for wilderness enthusiasts.
Designating the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic, which would permanently protect the rivers' free-flowing character, water quality and outstanding recreation, fisheries, wildlife, geological and ecological values. This designation provides for many recreational activities including unique backcountry hiking, kayaking, and white water rafting that is unheard of so close to a major urban center.