Murray, Larsen Re-Introduce Wild Sky Legislation Wild Sky to be First New Wilderness Area Designated for Washington in Over Twenty Years</A

Feb 7, 2007


Washington, D.C. - Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) introduced companion legislation in the House and Senate today to create the first new Wilderness area in Washington state in over twenty years. After more than five years of preparation, Murray and Larsen are hopeful that their Wild Sky legislation will become law in 2007.

"We have a great tradition of preserving the places that make Washington unique, and the Wild Sky Wilderness bill continues that tradition," Murray said.  "I'm thrilled that we will finally have a real opportunity to protect this remarkable area. It's the right thing to do for our environment, our economy, and future generations.”

“Senator Murray and I are introducing this bill to protect some of the most pristine forests and streams in Washington state.” said Larsen. “Years of community input have helped us carefully craft this legislation to protect Wild Sky. Washington families and businesses will benefit from this accessible wilderness for generations to come.”

Larsen and Murray originally introduced legislation to make Wild Sky a National Wilderness Area on May 29, 2002. In the 107th, the 108th and the 109th Congress, the bill passed the Senate and enjoyed broad bi-partisan support but failed to make it through the House.

The Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2007 will designate 106,577 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as wilderness. In the past, wilderness has consisted solely of old growth forest at higher elevations. Wild Sky protects thousands of acres of low-elevation old growth and 25 miles of salmon streams to make the land accessible for recreational use.

The area is located within 90 minutes of 2.5 million people.

“It’s long past time we added this magnificent natural treasure to our nation’s wilderness system, and this year we intend to get the job done,” said Senator Maria Cantwell. 

“Preserving Wild Sky will boost tourism at gateway communities all along Highway 2, safeguard accessible recreation opportunities, and protect an irreplaceable piece of Washington’s natural heritage.”

“Having looked down from the summit of Mount Baring, I can tell you this truly is wild country worth protecting,” said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who serves on the House panel with jurisdiction over wilderness bills.  “It’s amazing we have such pristine forest so close to downtown Seattle.  I look forward to helping the efforts of Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen by shepherding the bill through the Natural Resources Committee.”

The carefully crafted bill was designed after consulting with constituents and a number of interested parties. Public meetings were held in both Index and Monroe. Since 2001, staff from Murray and Larsen's office have been in constant communication with Snohomish County and the local Forest Service. They have also worked with the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, local tribes, Washington Snowmobilers Association, Snohomish County Emergency Responders, backcountry horsemen and Washington Coalition of Citizens with disAbilities. Murray and Larsen continued to communicate with local stakeholders following the Fall of 2006 floods.