Wild Sky Passes House of Representatives</A

Apr 17, 2007


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) spoke on the House floor today in favor of his Wild Sky legislation to designate 106,577 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as wilderness. The Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2007 (H.R. 886) passed the House of Representatives today by a voice vote. Below are Larsen’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I rise today in support of creating the first wilderness area in Washington state in 20 years.  The Wild Sky Wilderness will be unique, protecting 106,000 acres of the most pristine forests and streams in my district, while providing a clean accessible place to hike, hunt and fish.

“The Wild Sky Wilderness Act is carefully crafted legislation that reflects years of community input.  It will protect the peaks, forests and lakes of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as well as thousands of acres of lower elevation forests and salmon-bearing streams.

“Wild Sky will protect more low-elevation acres than any other wilderness area in the state, bringing wilderness closer to our communities and benefiting Washington families and businesses for generations to come.

“Congress passed the last National Forest Wilderness Act for Washington state in 1984 when a bipartisan effort brought a bill to President Ronald Reagan for signature that created among other wilderness areas the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

“The Wild Sky Wilderness Act has strong bipartisan support.  This bill has received strong support from local Republican and Democratic legislators, former Republican Governors and our current Democratic Governor, Christine Gregoire.  Additionally, state legislators and the Snohomish County Executive have expressed their support.

“The Wild Sky Wilderness Act has local support.  The former Mayor of the Town of Index, the closest local government to the proposed wilderness, has said that “the Wild Sky Wilderness would be the best thing that ever happened in his valley.”  The cities of Monroe and Snohomish, both located on Highway 2 on the way to the Wild Sky, have passed resolutions of support.

“The Wild Sky Wilderness Act has strong business support.  REI, Inc., the nation’s largest consumer cooperative with its focus on the outdoor adventure industry, is an endorser as are David and Lynn Meier, co-owners of A Stone’s Throw Bed and Breakfast and A Cabin in the Sky vacation rental.  Additionally, the Snohomish County Economic Development Council supports the proposal.

“This bill marks the summit of a five year process of inclusiveness and compromise.

“My staff and the staff of Senator Patty Murray, who is the prime sponsor in the Senate, have worked over the last five years to address local concerns.  As a result of community input the original idea of a 120,000-acre proposal became the 106,577-acre bill that we are voting on today.

“This spirit of compromise has been a constant in the bill’s development over the last five years.  This past winter, massive floods altered the path of the Skykomish river displacing and destroying parts of the primary road that snakes through the proposed wilderness area.  Immediately, Senator Murray and I brought together Snohomish County, the forest service and local advocates to responsibly adjust the boundaries of the proposed wilderness to ensure that the road could be repaired and remain open in to the future.

“This spirit of compromise has earned the support of groups such as the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, local tribes, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the backcountry horsemen and the Washington Coalition of Citizens with disAbilities.  Additionally my office has received approximately 4,000 letters and e-mails in support of Wild Sky and a petition with over 10,000 names.

“Over five years of collaboration and compromise has resulted in a bill that has gained broad support in the best tradition of past Washington wildernesses.  It is now time to create the next generation of Washington state wilderness.

“Finally, I would like to thank Chairman Rahall and his staff, Jim Zoia and Rick Healy, for their tremendous help and unwavering support for the Wild Sky Wilderness Act.”