Reichert, DelBene Applaud Committee on Natural Resources Decision to Consider Alpine Lakes Wilderness Legislation
Washington, D.C – United States Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) today applauded House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings’s (R-WA) announcement that his Committee will soon begin consideration of new wilderness proposals. Specifically, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, Chaired by Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), will hold a legislative hearing in July on Rep. Reichert’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 361). This legislation, which he re-introduced with Senator Patty Murray, along with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene earlier this year, proposes a 22,000-acre expansion of the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The expansion would include important lower-elevation lands and complete watersheds, and designation of both the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic.
“I was encouraged to hear Chairman Hastings’s announcement last night,” said Reichert. “Protecting resources and preserving recreational opportunities has long been a strong, bipartisan tradition for the Washington delegation. I have been working with the support of my colleagues since 2007 to ensure the protection of these lands and encourage the benefits this could have for local communities and businesses that rely on the support of recreationists from across the country. Consideration of this bill by the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee is an important step so this legislation can finally be signed into law and our natural heritage and the incredible beauty of our state can be preserved for future generations.”
“Washington state has a long, bipartisan tradition of protecting our wild lands, rivers and lakes. The announcement by Chairman Hastings of the House Natural Resources Committee’s plan to take up the legislation to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and protect the Pratt and Snoqualmie Rivers is great news for our state, outdoor enthusiasts and the local communities that depend on this precious habitat and pristine environment,” said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, original cosponsor to the House bill. “I want to thank Chairman Hastings for his willingness to consider this important legislation and to Congressman Reichert for his leadership on the issue. This bipartisan bill is an opportunity for us to protect our natural landscapes and expand the great recreational opportunities that make living in the Northwest so special.”
The existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976 and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the country. It is one of the closest wild forests to an urban center and provides key recreations opportunities. H.R. 361 includes:
· Providing the protection of the Wilderness Act of 1964 for the lower elevation lands; this will bring a richer diversity of ecosystems, including deeply forested valleys, into the wilderness area and increase its overall biodiversity. The addition of these 21,000 acres of public land into wilderness has the direct effect of protecting a broader array of outdoor recreational opportunities easily accessible for wilderness enthusiasts.
· Designating the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic, which would permanently protect the rivers’ free-flowing character, water quality and outstanding recreation, fisheries, wildlife, geological and ecological values. This designation provides for many recreational activities including unique backcountry hiking, kayaking, and white water rafting that is unheard of so close to a major urban center.
Rep. Reichert, with the support of state and local officials, other local leaders and constituents of the community, first introduced this wilderness protection measure in November 2007. From extensive stakeholder inquiries involving recreation groups, conservationists, tribes, local lawmakers, nearby landowners and public agencies, Rep. Reichert worked carefully to involve these stakeholders in discussions as the legislation was crafted and as it was introduced. Rep. Reichert’s bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 18, 2010.