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Alpine Lake expansion takes strong step toward reality

Alpine Lake expansion takes strong step toward reality

Federal legislation expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designating both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as "Wild and Scenic" has passed a significant milestone.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 361) passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with a favorable recommendation.

Congressman Dave Reichert’s legislation, co-sponsored by Susan Delbene, expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, passed favorably out of House Natural Resources Committee on July 30.

H.R. 361 would expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area by 22,100 acres of already existing federal land within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington. It would also designate the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and the Pratt River as wild and scenic rivers.

“Protecting this area for recreation and tourism opportunities is one of my highest priorities and I am pleased to see the Natural Resources Committee take this step to moving the Alpine Lakes legislation closer to law,” said Reichert. “Since this issue was first brought to my attention in 2006, I have refused to give up on working to ensure that the Alpine Lakes area receives the recognition and protection it deserves."

“With today’s passage of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness expansion bill out of the House Natural Resources Committee, we are one step closer to protecting one of the most popular wilderness destinations in the country,” said DelBene. “While I am concerned with some of the changes made to the bill today, this will not be the final version that the president signs into law. Expanding the Alpine Lakes is crucial in supporting outdoor recreation, which generates $22.5 billion in consumer spending each year and is responsible for 227,000 jobs in our state."

"There are still several steps left and much work to be done but now we are another step closer to protecting this important area and for that I am grateful,” stated King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who has been working with Congressman Reichert to craft this legislation since 2007 and travelled to Washington, D.C., this past year to testify in support of the legislation before the House Natural Resources Committee.

The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976 and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. Key elements of the Alpine Lakes legislation include:

  • Providing the protection of the Wilderness Act of 1964 for the lower elevation lands, which will bring a richer diversity of ecosystems, including deeply forested valleys, into the wilderness area and increase its overall biodiversity. The addition of these 21,000 acres of public land into wilderness 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, which 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 unheard of so close to a major urban center.

 

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