Farm Bureau questions Wild Sky

Everett Herald staff


EVERETT, WA-- While members of the state's congressional delegation prepare for a second try at creating a new wilderness area in eastern Snohomish County, lowland farmers have some questions about the proposal.

The Snohomish County Farm Bureau's board of directors is asking for more information and public participation, board president John Postema said.

Postema said the bureau contacted some cities that could be affected by protecting the 106,000 acres in the Skykomish River drainage north of Index and Skykomish. Most of them knew little about the proposal, Postema said.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and Sen. Patty Murray, both Democrats, a bill creating the Wild Sky Wilderness passed the Senate in the closing days of last year's Congress. In the House, the bill moved out of committee, but was one of hundreds not acted upon.

Before the bills were introduced, Congress negotiated with forest user groups and conducted public workshops.

Postema says an environmental impact statement should be required before anything passes Congress. Creating a wilderness would preclude the possibility of creating reservoirs to control valley flooding downstream, or might affect the ability of people to harvest forest materials such as ferns or moss, he said.

He also wonders about the likely decommissioning of about 30 miles of roads and whether that would be more costly than continuing to maintain them.

Under a wilderness status, wheeled vehicles would be prohibited, along with timber cutting and mining.

The proposed wilderness includes old-growth forests, streams, jagged peaks, lowland forests and wetlands used by spawning salmon.

Postema said the Farm Bureau has about 3,000 members in the county. The group is part of a state association that promotes farming issues and lobbies for laws that benefit farmers.


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