E&E: Wednesday, April 18, 2007
House OKs Wild Sky Wilderness designation
Dan Berman, E&E Daily senior reporter
The House yesterday approved legislation to set aside 106,000 acres of low-elevation, old-growth forest in Washington's Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as wilderness.
The Wild Sky Wilderness bill, H.R. 886, would also protect about 25 miles of salmon streams in western Washington. The House approved the bill under suspension of the rules along with several other Natural Resources Committee bills.
Yesterday's action was a long time coming for Wild Sky sponsor Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and environmentalists who could not convince the GOP-controlled House to approve the measure over the past six years.
"Wild Sky will protect more low-elevation acres than any other wilderness area in the state, bringing wilderness closer to our communities and benefiting Washington families and businesses for generations to come," Larsen said on the House floor yesterday.
The Senate approved the measure in the 107th, 108th and 109th sessions of Congress, but the bill never got past former House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). Pombo argued that about 13,000 acres did not meet the requirements of the 1964 Wilderness Act and should be removed from the final bill.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has promised a friendlier attitude toward wilderness bills in the new Congress. "As we move forward, the Congress is reminded of our duty to ensure that this area and other wilderness regions across America are preserved for our enjoyment and the future enjoyment of generations to come," Rahall said in a statement.