(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Senate today passed the Wild Sky Wilderness bill for the third time in four years, clearing once again an important hurdle on the way to becoming law. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the lead Senate sponsor of the bipartisan bill, called on the House of Representatives to follow the Senate's unanimous endorsement and send the bill to President Bush to be signed into law.
Wild Sky designates over 106,000 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as Wilderness. Murray, who originally co-authored the legislation with Representative Rick Larsen in 2002, has pushed the bill through the Senate three times. But each time, the bipartisan bill, which was crafted with the input of stakeholders from throughout the region, has stalled due to House Republican objections.
“Senate approval of this measure is a critical step in establishing Wild Sky as a destination for future generations to hike, fish, ride, camp, climb, and enjoy the great outdoors,” Sen. Murray said. “It combines accessible lower elevations with majestic mountains and will be a treasure for Washington’s citizens. Now is the time for every member of the delegation to get behind this proposal to help us reach the mountaintop.”
“Though we've been close in the past and have fallen short in the House, we can get it done this year,” Murray added.
In January 2005, Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, the lead House sponsor, reintroduced the Wild Sky Wilderness proposal. On February 16, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, of which Sen. Maria Cantwell is a member, approved the measure. Today, the measure passed the full Senate by unanimous consent.
Designation of this wilderness area would protect wildlife and promote clean water, protect threatened species of salmon, steelhead, and trout, enhance and protect recreational opportunities for the region, while contributing to the local economy.