(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) led the Wild Sky Wilderness bill to passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, the final stop before the bill can be sent to the President who is expected to sign it into law. The Wild Sky bill, legislation to preserve more than 106,000 acres of wild land in Snohomish County, passed the House today by a vote of 291 to 117 as part of the bipartisan Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. On April 10, Wild Sky passed the Senate under the leadership of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
“We’ve reached the end of a long hike. There have been many twists and turns along the way, and let me tell you – it’s a beautiful view from here,” said Larsen. “I’ve had great company with me on this journey, from Sen. Patty Murray to Chairman Rahall and all the local advocates for Wild Sky who have led the way with their passion and commitment to protecting this pristine wilderness.”
“We all felt the spirit of Wild Sky today as an overwhelming majority in the House supported its passage. This is a bill that has always brought diverse people together to do what's right for our environment and our future,” Senator Murray said. “I could not have asked for a better partner in this effort than Rick Larsen who has walked side by side with me throughout this journey and never given up. I can't wait to lace up my tennis shoes and take those first steps into Washington's first new wilderness area in twenty years.”
“I applaud my friend and colleague, Rick Larsen, who has long championed the designation of ‘Wild Sky’ wilderness in his state,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV). “In my view, to be in a wilderness area is a humbling experience. To be a part of designating wilderness is even more humbling, because wilderness is an effort to retain the landscape as God created it. Today, let this be the next to last action – other than the President’s signature – on establishing the Wild Sky Wilderness in the State of Washington.”
Wild Sky is the result of more than seven years of work by Larsen, Murray, their colleagues in Congress and advocates from Northwest Washington and across Washington state. Murray and Larsen first introduced the bill in 2002. After several years of passing the Senate but getting stuck in the House Resources Committee, Wild Sky passed the House for the first time in 2007.
The Wild Sky Wilderness Act will designate 106,577 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as wilderness. In the past, Washington wilderness has primarily consisted of old growth forest at higher elevations. Wild Sky protects thousands of acres of low-elevation old growth and 25 miles of salmon streams to make the land accessible for recreational use.
Wild Sky will provide more than 2.4 million people from Snohomish, Skagit and King counties with convenient access to hiking and camping in pristine wilderness, protect wildlife, promote clean water and contribute to the local economy.
Today, Larsen spoke on the House floor in support of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which includes the Wild Sky Wilderness Act.