Friday, March 27, 2009

Washington's Next Wilderness?

The passage this week of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act which created two million acres of new federal wilderness is certainly something to celebrate. And while Washington didn't receive any new wilderness, neighboring states Idaho and Oregon received substantial tracts. Now is the time to ride the momentum and secure some new wilderness areas for the Evergreen State. Rep Reichert has introduced a bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness by 22,000 acres. Senator Patty Murray has agreed to co-sponsor the bill in the senate. And while I am excited about this bill, the area included in it is not under immanent threat. What is under threat from ORV molestation and extractive industries are the following areas:

The Moonlight Dome Roadless Area-Olympic National Forest
Kettle River Range- Colville National Forest
Dark Divide- Gifford Pinchot National Forest
South Entiat Mountains (Upper Mad River)-Wenatchee National Forest
Eastern Sawtooth Range (Golden Lakes)- Wenatchee National Forest
Mount Bonapare- Okanogan National Forest

These lands are long overdue for wilderness protection. They were bypassed in the 1984 act and have repeatably been overlooked for wilderness in the past two and a half decades. Time is running out on these lands. It is time now for wilderness for these, some of Washington's last great unprotected wildlands. It won't be easy with the likes of Hastings and McMorris-Rodgers in Congress-but with Reichert on board he can help power broke. Start urging (if you haven't already) your elected officials to get on board!

(photo- Middle Fork Snoqualmie River-near Washington's possible next wilderness area)

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