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Wild Sky Bill Introduced at Last!

After six years of bi-partisan efforts led by Democrats Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, the Democrats’ re-taking of the Congress in Nov. 2006 was the breakthrough needed to get the Wild Sky Wilderness Bill moving through Congress. With Rep. Pombo (R-CA) out of office, finally Senator Patty Murray (for herself and Sen. Cantwell in the Senate) and Rep. Rick Larsen (for himself, Rep. Inslee, and Rep. Dicks in the House) were able to introduce “The Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2007”! Although the Senate had passed the Senate version of the bill three times, Pombo had kept it blocked for years in his House Resources Committee. What a legacy for all who made it happen – 106,557 irreplaceable acres in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests for present and future generations to cherish and enjoy! It’s difficult to imagine a more gratifying piece of legislation for those responsible. A few features of the bill are these:

  1. Float planes will be allowed continued access to Lake Isabel, as will hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and similar activities.
  2. No logging, mining, or building of any new roads will be permitted; the county road from Index into the area is outside the proposed boundaries.
  3. No bicycles or motorized vehicles, except for wheelchairs, will be allowed.
  4. Barclay Lake is excluded because large groups like the Boy Scouts have camped there for years.
  5. At Windy Ridge 4,000 acres were excluded to allow snowmobiles to continue using that area. Rep. Pombo claimed that wilderness protection should extend only to lands untouched by humans.

Our Washington State sponsors (Sen. Murray and Rep. Larsen), along with several former members of Congress, however, have had the vision and wisdom to protect habitat for bears, eagles, salmon, steelhead, hikers, and 80,000 acres of old-growth forest, of which 14,000 acres are rare, low-elevation, old-growth. The goal now is to get the bill on Pres. Bush’s desk for his promised signature in time for a July 4 signing ceremony in the wilderness area. It will be the first created in Washington State since 1984.