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Two Wild and Scenic River Bills Pass the Senate (WA)

Posted: 06/19/2013
By: Thomas O'Keefe

Earlier today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced that legislation to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and federally designate both the Pratt and stretches of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic has passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent. Senate Bill 112, The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, was introduced by Senator Murray and cosponsored by Senator Cantwell (D-WA). It would expand the existing wilderness area by more than 22,000 acres to include important lower-elevation lands and watersheds. A companion House bill (H.R. 361) was introduced by Represenative Dave Reichert (WA-08) and is co-sponsored by Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Jim McDermott (WA-07), and Adam Smith (WA-09).

In addition, legislation designating Illabot Creek in Skagit County as a Wild and Scenic River has passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent.  The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and companion legislation has been introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Rick Larsen (WA-02). The bill would protect the free-flowing character of Illabot Creek, an important habitat for threatened wild Chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other wildlife, while maintaining recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing.
American Whitewater has worked hard in advocating for the addition of these river segments to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. While dozens of rivers have been recommended for Wild and Scenic River designation in Washington State, currently only the Skagit (and major tributaries that include the Sauk, Suiattle, and Cascade), White Salmon, and Klickitat are designated. 
"Today was an important day for river conservation in Washington State," said Thomas O'Keefe, the Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director for American Whitewater. "Our rivers represent an important recreational and cultural resource for the state, defining our quality of life and attracting visitors from around the world. As our rivers face new development pressures and threats it is important to safeguard the intact free-flowing river systems that are critical to the ecological and economic health of our region."
The attention now turns to the House where both bills have been introduced and await passage.
Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell comment on Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and its tributary Pratt River
“Today we moved one step closer to expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and ensuring this pristine landscape will be preserved as a legacy for generations to come,” said Senator Murray.  “I am so proud that after years of effort, this legislation has passed the Senate.  This designation will allow our children and grandchildren to experience these special places in their natural state.  Washingtonians are fortunate to have permanently protected national gems like the Alpine Lakes, and this legislation will help preserve an area cherished by so many, and will help bolster the recreational economy.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to ensure these important protections are finally signed into law.”  
“The Alpine Lakes Wilderness offers incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation just 45 minutes from Seattle,” said Senator Cantwell. “Areas like Alpine Lakes help make Washington state unique, and draw visitors and talented workers to our communities.  Wilderness areas also ensure the supply of clean water and vibrant wildlife populations.  I am proud that the Senate acted today and put the preservation of these lands one step closer to the President’s desk.”
Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell comment on Illabot Creek, a tributary of the Skagit Wild and Scenic River
“This bill would protect a delicate habitat and one of Washington state’s precious natural resources for generations to come,” said Senator Murray.  “Preserving Illabot Creek is vitally important for the many fish and wildlife species depending on it for survival.  This legislation will also support outdoor recreation opportunities for hunters, fishermen, and families to enjoy in perpetuity.   I am so proud that after years of effort, we are closer than ever to preserving these spaces for future generations.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to move this important legislation forward.”
“Today the Senate acted to protect Illabot Creek’s critical wildlife habitat and incredible sites for outdoor recreation,” said Senator Cantwell. “Home to salmon and bald eagles, Illabot Creek exemplifies the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. This legislation is one step closer to becoming law and protecting Illabot Creek for wildlife and outdoor recreation for generations to come.”

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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Associated Rivers

Illabot Creek WA
Snoqualmie, Middle Fork WA
Snoqualmie, Middle Fork WA
Snoqualmie, Middle Fork WA

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Middle Fork Snoqualmie (WA)

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