ALERT: Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington State

SAWS Action Alert

Comments should be sent to your U.S. Senator and U.S, Representative now.

This year, during the 109th Congress, is the third year the Wild Sky Wilderness bills have been introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D, WA) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D, WA-2). The Senate bill has passed both times but the house bill has died in the House Resource Committee thanks to Rep. Richard Pombo (R, CA-11) We are hopeful that with help from multiple-use recreationists across the country, the third time will not be the charm.

The Wild Sky Wilderness, if enacted by Congress, would encompass 106,000 acres of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBSNF) land near Index, Washington. Thousands of these acres do not even meet the qualifications of the Wilderness Act of 1964 (see references below). A portion of this act states ÔÇ£An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal landÔǪ which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeableÔÇØ. If you would like to read more of the details of these two bills, go to the Thomas web site at: and in the search field key in either S 152 or HR 851 and press enter.

A few points you may want to consider in your comment letter:

This area contains popular snowmobile, motorcycle, mountain bike, and automobile camping areas. These areas would become closed to this form of recreation as they are not allowed in wilderness areas.

The land mass in Washington State is already 10% wilderness. Nationwide we have 106 million acres of wilderness in 44 states. Has a need been identified for designating new wilderness areas in the western United States?

 According to Gary Paull, MBSNF Wilderness & Trails Coordinator, this proposal would include:

  • 16,178 acres that do not meet the definition of wilderness
  • 23.45 miles of inventoried roads
  • A forest service cabin at Lake Isabel, a forest service fire lookout on the top of Evergreen Mountain, and an old dam at the outlet of Lake Isabel
  • Approximately 6,600 acres that have been previously logged

Wilderness designation allows very few forest management practices. Catastrophic forest fires are left to burn uncontrolled, trails must be maintained by primitive means and invasive species are left to multiple with minimum controls available.

Be both polite and factual with your letters, and be sure to address your Congressman or Congresswoman as ÔÇ£HonorableÔÇØ in your salutation. Use the links below to lookup your representative if you are unsure who it is.

Lookup your U.S. House Representative

Lookup your U.S. Senator

I would also encourage you to send a copy of your letter to:

Chairman Richard Pombo
Committee on Resources

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

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Reference publications regarding Wild Sky ÔÇô rather interesting that the size of the proposal has remained at 106,000 acres, but the amount of acres that do not meet the definition for wilderness seems to keep getting smaller each year. How can that be?

Everett Herald (02/17/05 ÔÇô ÔÇ£Opponents contend that some 16,000 acres have already been spoiled by logging and mining roads, and want those areas excluded. Murray and Larsen say a unique part of the proposal is that the measure would protect lower-elevation salmon spawning grounds, including the 16,000 acresÔÇØ

Associated Press (02/16/05 ÔÇô ÔÇ£The plan includes 13,000 acres that contain several former logging roads and other marks of human intrusion – marks that House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo says conflict with the 1964 Wilderness ActÔÇØ

Mark Rey, Under Secretary, USDA – (Testimony 07/22/04 ÔÇôÔÇ£The Department has significant concerns with approximately 16,000 acres.┬á These acres would not be considered suitable for wilderness designation under the provisions of the 1964 Wilderness Act or under existing Forest Service regulations and planning directionÔǪÔÇØ

Abigail Kimbell, Associate Deputy Chief, FS, USDA (Testimony 07/30/02 The Department has significant concerns with approximately 36,000 acres of the 106,000 acres proposed for wilderness designation. These acres would not be considered suitable for wilderness designation under the provisions of the 1964 Wilderness Act or under existing Forest Service regulations