House votes to increase Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and add protection for Middle Fork

March 18, 2010

By Administrator

NEW — 2:00 p.m. March 18, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to increase federally-protected land in and around the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, including the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. 

The bill has already passed committee in the Senate. The next step towards passage is a full vote by that body.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., co-sponsored the bill, which would increase the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area and designate the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

The bill was simultaneously submitted in the U.S. House by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and several co-sponsors.

“When I was the (King County) Sheriff, this was an area where stolen cars and meth labs existed; it was a garbage dump. Now we’ve cleaned it up, and it’s a beautiful and pristine area,” Reichert said in a statement. 

Much of the area’s cleanup was spearheaded by local outdoor recreation activists, such as North Bend-based Friends of the Trail.

The bill proposes adding over 22,000 acres to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The addition would include important lower-elevation lands and watersheds.

Congress designated the wilderness area in 1976. It is one of the closest blocks of wild forests to an urban center in the country and provides many recreational opportunities.

Designating the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic Rivers would permanently protect their free-flowing character, water quality and current natural value.

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