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Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area bill passes key committee
Legislation expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic has passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The bill, S. 322, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, would expand the existing wilderness by over 22,000 acres to include important lower-elevation lands and watersheds.
Senator Patty Murray introduced the bill in the Senate in February with Senator Maria Cantwell as a cosponsor. The bill was introduced simultaneously in the House (H.R. 608) by Congressman Dave Reichert.
Key elements of the new Alpine Lakes legislation include:
• Providing the protection of the Wilderness Act of 1964 for lower elevation lands, which will bring a richer diversity of ecosystems, including deeply forested valleys, into the wilderness area. The addition of these lower elevation lands also 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 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 easily accessible from a major urban center.