Legislative momentum continues to build for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and
Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 112, H. R. 361). Following passage of the bill
by unanimous consent in the Senate, the House formally took up the legislation with a hearing
before the House Natural Resources Committee.
"The Middle Fork Snoqualmie is one of the nation's most spectacular whitewater rivers in
close proximity to a major metropolitan area, and we are thrilled that support for this
legislation has continued to build," said Thomas O'Keefe, Pacific Northwest Stewardship
Director for American Whitewater. "We applaud Congressman Reichert (R-WA08) for making this
legislation a priority since 2007, and his work with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA01) to make
this a bipartisan effort."
At the hearing, Congressman Dave Reichert and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, both sponsors in the
House, gave testimony in support of protecting the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers and
their adjoining forest. Additionally, Republican King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who has
been a local supporter of the proposal from the beginning, also testified in support of the
"I grew up in a family that understood the importance of these wild places, especially close
to population centers where families can go hike, fish and camp without having to spend a great
deal of money or drive long distances from home,” said King County Councilmember Reagan
Dunn in his written testimony
submitted at the hearing. “And now my son and daughter will have the privilege of enjoying
this land as well."
The legislation would protect an additional 22,000 acres of Wilderness adjoining the existing
Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and would add 10 miles of the Pratt River and nearly 30 miles of
the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The bill
was introduced into the current Congress on January 24, 2013, with bipartisan support from
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA08) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
After significant outreach to local stakeholders, Congressman Reichert and Senator Murray
carefully crafted the legislation, resulting in strong local support. The bill has garnered
endorsements from more than 70 local elected officials, more than 100 outdoor local businesses in
the Snoqualmie River Valley and leading members of the outdoor industry, and nearly 150
conservation, recreation, hunting and fishing and religious leaders.
Originally designated in 1976, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area has since become one of the most
popular Wilderness areas in the country. The legislation would add an additional 22,000 acres to
the existing Wilderness area.
The proposed Wilderness additions are comprised of dense low-elevation forests whose robust
wildlife populations include cougars, black bears, bobcats, elk, deer, and native trout. The
inclusion of low-elevation land will conserve diverse ecosystems, add to the biodiversity of the
wilderness area, and protect recreation opportunities such as hiking, backpacking, climbing,
snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Currently, only 6% of all designated Wilderness on
national forest lands in Washington State are low elevation (i.e., below 3,000 ft). More than
half of the proposed Wilderness in the Alpine Lakes bill includes low elevation forests and
Washington State has only 200 miles of rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers
Act--far less than neighboring Oregon, which boasts 2,000 miles. This legislation would designate
the first Wild and Scenic river designations in the central Cascades, targeting the Middle Fork
Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers. These rivers are home to world-class fishing, kayaking and
whitewater rafting. Their protection under the National Wild and Scenic River System would
safeguard high water quality for downstream residents and preserves critical wildlife habitat.
These rivers would be protected as free-flowing streams, providing residents of the Seattle area
with increased access to water-based recreation.