Wild Sky Wilderness Becomes Law!
by Mark Lawler, Cascade Chapter National Forests Committee Chair
We've done it! After nine years of planning, organizing, mapping, writing letters, taking photographs, lobbying officials, presenting slideshows, leading tours, and engaging in untold thousands of hours of volunteer and staff effort, the Sierra Club celebrated on May 8, 2008 as the Wild Sky Wilderness Act was signed into law.
This is the first new wilderness to be added to Washington's national forests since 1984. Its 106,000 acres include ancient forests down to low elevations not typically found in other wilderness areas, pristine lakes, soaring rocky peaks, numerous hiking trails, and even areas that were logged early in the 20th century but regrew into beautiful wild forests. With the contiguous Glacier Peak and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Areas, a protected wild swath now extends from the banks of the Skykomish River all the way over the Cascade Crest to the upper reaches of the Wenatchee River.
In April the U.S. Senate and then the House finally overcame years of blocking actions by conservatives and passed the measure as part of a package of public lands bills. At home, the Wild Sky effort showed a new way to move forward with wilderness protection, as local citizens worked with elected officials to fine-tune the proposal and to make it a reality. Senator Patty Murray led the way starting in 1999 and was soon joined by Rep. Rick Larsen, whose district includes the Wild Sky area. Sen. Maria Cantwell helped to move the measure through the Senate, and Reps. Inslee, Dicks, Reichert, Smith, McDermott, and Baird cosponsored the bill and helped in many ways to move it through the House.
We would like to thank the many wilderness supporters who have written letters, attended public meetings, or even just visited the Wild Sky area to experience it themselves. The overwhelming public support was what Murray and Larsen needed to keep pushing the bill forward despite several years of adversity in Congress and to resist timber industry efforts to remove the "heart and soul" of the proposal. Murray and Larsen's efforts have been simply outstanding. We hope that all Sierra Club members will join us in thanking them for this incredible gift of wilderness protection to future generations.
Read more:Senator Patty Murray's comments