Murray Renews Effort to Create Wild Sky Wilderness

Jan 25 2005

Senator remains committed to preserving land for future generations

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray today restarted efforts to designate over 106,000 acres of national forest in east Snohomish County as Wilderness. Murray, who originally co-authored the legislation with Rep. Rick Larsen in 2002, has pushed the bill through the Senate twice. Murray reintroduced the original legislation in the Senate today.

“Wild Sky reflects the great tradition of preserving places that make Washington state unique,” Murray said today. “It took eight years to preserve the Hanford Reach, and it was the right thing to do. I am committed to passing this legislation and protecting Wild Sky because it is the right thing to do for our environment, our economy and future generations.”

When passed, Wild Sky will become the first new Wilderness area in Washington state in nearly two decades. The area is located within 90 minutes of 2.5 million people.

Senator Murray has pushed the bill – the result of bi-partisan cooperation and local involvement – through the Senate twice. Wild Sky still awaits action in the House of Representatives.

“Senator Murray is a champion for Wild Sky. She has twice passed the bill through the Senate, and I'm confident she will succeed again this year,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. “I will continue working closely with Senator Murray as I fight to make Wild Sky a reality in the House.”

“We have a long history of bi-partisan work on Wilderness in Washington state,” Murray added. “From Scoop and Maggie, to Slade Gorton and Dan Evans to Rick Larsen and Jennifer Dunn, we have always had bi-partisan support for moving wilderness bills. I hope the House will follow this legacy and move quickly to enact the Wild Sky Wilderness Act.”

Murray’s Proposed Wilderness Will:

  • Protect wildlife and promote clean water - by preserving the landscapes that host many native plants and animals. The wilderness will help protect wolves, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, deer, and healthy runs of salmon, steelhead, and trout.

  • Enhance and protect recreational opportunities for the region - It protects the area for today's users and seeks to open up new areas for climbers, hikers, hunters, and anglers. It directs the Forest Service to work with the public to develop new trails -- in and around -- the wilderness to expand public access to these remarkable landscapes.

  • Reflect the diverse landscapes of the Puget Sound region - Only 6.6 percent of all Washington state wilderness areas are under 3,000 feet. As a result, current wilderness areas don't reflect the entire array of ecological systems. The Wild Sky Wilderness is made up of about 30% low-land areas -- including low-land forests and salmon-bearing streams.

  • Contribute to the local economy - People looking for easy and quick access to nature will see the Wild Sky listed in maps and hiking books as a special destination. Every climber, hiker, hunter, and angler setting out to the Wild Sky Wilderness will be stopping at hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and stores in the gateway communities in the greater Skykomish area.