Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wild Sky Wilderness Act

Wild Sky lifts off

The Wild Sky Wilderness Act stands an excellent chance of passing Congress this session in large part due to the wisdom of California voters, who removed a significant impediment.
Creation of Washington's first new wilderness area in more than 20 years has always enjoyed bipartisan support. Five years ago, when the idea of protecting stands of low-elevation, old-growth trees in eastern Snohomish County was first introduced, a Republican congressman from Idaho said the bill "was done the right way."

Bound up in that praise was lots of preparatory work with the communities of Index and Skykomish and interested hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, hunters, anglers, float-plane pilots and snowmobilers.

Lots of conversations and lots of nipping and tucking of boundaries and discussions with relevant interest groups and government agencies also took place.

A vision that began as 110,000 acres in the 107th Congress is before the 110th session as 106,577 acres.

The White House has been on board for more than four years. Washington Sen. Patty Murray has walked the legislation through the Senate three times. In the House, Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, has patiently worked the legislation through his district and on Capitol Hill.
The roadblock was always the Republican chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and he was not re-elected last November.

The new Democratic leader declared Wild Sky to be his committee's top wilderness priority.

The gavel changing hands will not spare Wild Sky from another review in the House, but the proposal, with its natural beauty, full menu of outdoor activities and economic potential, is a good story that bears repeating.

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