News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray’s (D-WA) legislation, S. 721, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, was blocked by Senate Republicans as the 111th Congress came to a close. Murray’s legislation would expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designate both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic. The bill passed the full House in March of this year, and it passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in December 2009. 

“I am extremely disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked this bipartisan legislation to protect the Alpine Lake wilderness area,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This legislation would make sure that this pristine environment is preserved as a legacy and natural resource for generations to come. I was proud to work across party lines and join with Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert to introduce this bill. And I am going to keep fighting next year to pass this important legislation.”

"It is unfortunate that this reasonable, bipartisan bill that is supported by the majority of Washingtonians is being blocked from fair consideration in the U.S. Senate," said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). "I am committed to pushing for expanded protection of this treasured landscape in the next Congress."

Murray and Cantwell introduced the bill in the Senate in March, 2009. The bill was introduced simultaneously in the House by Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08), Congressmen Jay Inslee (WA-01), Brian Baird (WA-03), Adam Smith (WA-05), and Jim McDermott (WA-07).

The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976 by the late Congressman Lloyd Meeds and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. It is one of the closest blocks of wild forests to an urban center in the country and provides diverse recreational opportunities. Key elements of the new 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 lower elevation lands also 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.