Wild Sky Wilderness
Senator Murray first introduced the Wild Sky Wilderness Act in 2002 to preserve 106,577 acres of wilderness in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Wild Sky Wilderness is located north of Index and is only 90 minutes from 2.5 million Washington residents. Her legislation passed the Senate several times over multiple Congresses before being signed into law.
On May 8, 2008, after years of collaboration with local communities, citizens, and stakeholders in the state and working the bill through the legislative process, Senator Murray and Representative Rick Larsen celebrated the final step in the process – Presidential signing. President Bush signed the Wild Sky Wilderness into law and the first new wilderness area in Washington state in twenty years was officially designated.
Since 1995, Senator Murray has worked to protect the Hanford Reach, a remarkable stretch of the Columbia River. She introduced and fought to pass legislation to protect the Hanford Reach in 1995, 1997, and 1999. On June 9, 2000, President Clinton designated the Hanford Reach as a National Monument. The designation covers over 200,000 acres of Federal land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and protects a 51 mile, free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River. As a National Monument, the protection of this land will secure valuable salmon spawning ground, allow families to enjoy recreational activities along the river, and provide protection for rare shrub-steppe habitat.
In March 2009, Senator Murray introduced the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area is located in Chelan, King, and Kittitas counties and is one of the closest blocks of wild forests to an urban center in the country. This legislation would expand the Wilderness by 22,000 acres and would designate the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as wild and scenic. In addition to protecting native plants and animals, this legislation would enhance recreational opportunities for the region and protect the rivers' free-flowing characteristics and water quality.
Despite broad bipartisan and bicameral support, this legislation was blocked from passage in the 111th Congress. Senator Murray has reintroduced this legislation and continues to fight for its passage.
Illabot Creek is located in Skagit County and provides crucial spawning habitat for wild Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, all threatened species, and is home to numerous other species including bald eagles that roost along the creek. Senator Murray first introduced legislation to designated Illabot Creek as a component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 2009. She continues to work to pass this legislation and ensure protection for wildlife and to maintain recreational opportunities on the creek.
In June 2012, Senator Murray introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, with companion legislation introduced by Congressman Norm Dicks in the House of Representatives. This legislation would designate 126,554 acres of new wilderness on land currently managed by the United States Forest Service. It would also add 19 rivers and seven tributaries to the Wild and Scenic River System in order to preserve the rivers’ free-flowing conditions for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Finally, it adds national recognition to the Peninsula’s outstanding scenery and will enhance the tourism industry in the region.
Throughout the formulation of this proposal, Senator Murray and Congressman Dicks received input from the local community, families, business owners, and Native American tribes. Senator Murray continues to work to protect key forest areas and rivers on the Peninsula without compromising the important role of economic development in the region.