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Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Wild Pratt River Act Introduced

Posted: 11/08/2007
by Thomas O'Keefe

Earlier today Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) introduced the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Wild Pratt River Act (H.R. 4113). By introducing legislation to protect the Pratt River valley and adjoining areas, Congressman Reichert is ensuring that world class recreational opportunities and clean water and wildlife habitat will be preserved into the future.

AW's Thomas O'Keefe issued the following statement on this legislation:

“As someone who has explored hundreds of river miles across the country and around the world, I can confidently say that we have some of the most spectacular river resources of any place in the world. Protecting the Pratt River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is an important step toward preserving recreational opportunities for hikers and paddlers desiring rare opportunities for solitude and exploration close to downtown Seattle.”

We encourage our members, and particularly those living in Washington's 8th Congressional District to contact the Congressman and thank him for taking leadership on introducing this legislation and his attention to rivers. For the text and map of this proposal please check out the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Wild Pratt River Act page on Congressman Reichert's website.

Read the joint press release from a coalition of organizations who have worked to support the efforts of Congressman Reichert:

ALPINE LAKES PROTECTION SOCIETY | AMERICAN RIVERS | CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S WILDERNESS | AMERICAN WHITEWATER | MIDDLE FORK COALITION |THE MOUNTAINEERS | CASCADE CHAPTER SIERRA CLUB | NORTH CASCADES CONSERVATION COUNCIL | THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY | WASHINGTON TRAILS ASSOCIATION | WASHINGTON WILDERNESS COALITION

Seattle – Congressman Reichert introduced legislation today (HR 4113, The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Wild Pratt River Act) that will help ensure the future of some of Washington’s most popular backcountry recreation areas by designating more than 22,000 acres of wilderness adjacent to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and protecting nearly 10 miles of the Pratt River as a Wild and Scenic River. Conservationists and recreationists joined local stakeholders and elected officials in applauding the much anticipated announcement and praised Congressman Reichert for his leadership on Alpine Lake Wilderness expansion, and his open and inclusive consultation process in crafting the proposal.
 
 “This is an exciting time for wilderness supporters in Washington and this fall we now have two efforts making their way through Congress,” said Tom Uniack, Washington Wilderness Coalition’s Conservation Director.  “Like the Wild Sky Wilderness campaign, this legislation is built on the same tradition of local support and consultation with local stakeholders, which should serve it well as it moves through Congress.”
 
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976.  While this designation was significant and permanently protected what has become one of the nation’s most popular wilderness destinations, some of the region’s most important low-elevation forests including the Pratt, Middle Fork and South Fork Snoqualmie River valleys were not included in the original bill.
 
“Today’s announcement has been over 30 years in the making,” said Don Parks of the Alpine Lakes Protection Society who was also intimately involved in the original designation of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in 1976. “Congressman Reichert is continuing the work that was started in 1976 by adding important protections to rare low-elevation old growth and mature forests, fish habitat and multi-season recreational opportunities.”
 
These areas provide great recreational opportunities for individuals and families to experience.  By introducing legislation to protect these remaining areas, Congressman Reichert is ensuring these world class recreational opportunities and clean water and wildlife habitat will be preserved into the future.
 
 “Expanding the popular Alpine Lakes Wilderness is an amazing opportunity to preserve pristine areas that are truly the backyard wilderness for the millions of people who live in the greater Puget Sound region,” said Michelle Ackermann, Regional Director of The Wilderness Society. “This bill will protect existing recreational opportunities for our children and grandchildren to experience. Future generations will look back on this time as one of the most significant in our efforts to ensure the future of Washington’s remaining wildlands.” 
 
In addition to the wilderness protections, HR 4113 will designate the entire Pratt River as a Wild and Scenic River – nearly 10 miles of wild river.  This designation will ensure that the Pratt River is fully protected, securing critical habitat for cutthroat trout, elk, mountain goats and many other species.  Wild and Scenic designation will also ensure that recreational opportunities on the river including unique backcountry kayaking and world-class hiking can continue, while safeguarding clean water resources for hundreds of thousands of local residents.    
 
“It is a rare thing to have such a wild river so close to an urban area, and it’s rivers like the Pratt that make living in the Pacific Northwest so special,” said Bonnie Rice, associate director for conservation for the Northwest office of American Rivers. “It’s no secret that the Pratt flows into a valley offering world-class recreation opportunities, but the river is equally important to our environment – providing critical clean water for fish and wildlife, and our towns and local communities.  It is truly the life blood of this region and it deserves to join the ranks of Washington’s other great Wild and Scenic rivers, like the Skagit and White Salmon.”
 
Conservationists applaud Congressman Reichert for his tireless work and leadership on this legislation.  Through his consultation process he has developed a balanced proposal that protects the remaining wild resources while ensuring future recreational opportunities.  They are quick to point out that both recreation and conservation concerns have been addressed in this proposal.

“The Washington Trails Association has worked for years to maintain and develop many of the most popular and spectacular trails in the Alpine Lakes region and this new wilderness proposal will only enhance and ensure the future of this one-of-a-kind trail network,” said Jonathan Guzzo, Advocacy Director with the Washington Trails Association.  “This effort is about protecting our future environment and recreation opportunities and it is exciting to see that our lawmakers understand that we can do both.”

From former Washington lawmakers Governor/U.S. Senator Dan Evans and Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson to today’s heroes Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Rick Larsen, Washington lawmakers have a proud tradition of working with local citizens to protect their wild backyards – ensuring both recreation opportunities and preservation of an intact, healthy ecosystem.  
 
“Wilderness has always been Washington’s common ground, and it’s great to see this proud tradition continue,” said Jon Owen, Deputy Campaigns Director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness.  “Now more than ever we need our Washingtonians to work together to protect special places like the Pratt River and the Alpine Lakes.  It’s exciting that Congressman Reichert is joining this tradition.”
 
The consultation with local stakeholders is evident in Congressman Reichert’s approach to this legislation. On August 8, more than 40 local elected officials and key stakeholders participated in a two hour tour of the area and discussed a number of concerns that had been addressed by the proposal. That process has continued over the intervening two months.
 
“Grassroots supporters of the Alpine Lakes country have never given up hope, nor stopped working to see that additional critical areas would be protected. Today thanks to Congressman Reichert’s leadership these special places have a real chance of being protected. He has done his due diligence to reach out early and often to get critical feedback on his proposal from local stakeholders,” said Dave Porter of the Cascade Chapter of Sierra Club. “The long list of testimonials in support of the Congressman’s process from local mayors to mountain bikers to the Snoqualmie Tribe to Alpental Ski Area are a testament to the consultation that is behind this legislation. We look forward to working with Congressman Reichert to protect these significant wild lands.”
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012



Associated Projects

Middle Fork Snoqualmie (WA)
AW has been working on resource stewardship along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie in Washington and protecting this drainage for the incredible recreational opportunities it provides.

Associated Rivers