Gov. Gary Locke Endorses Wild Sky Wilderness Area Proposal

Press release from Governor's office

OLYMPIA, WA- May 24, 2004 - Gov. Gary Locke today endorsed a proposal to designate 106,000 acres in the Skykomish River valley as a federally protected wilderness area. Locke announced his support in a letter to Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chair of the House Resources Committee.

The proposed Wild Sky Wilderness area would be the first such designation in Washington since the passage of the Washington Wilderness Act.

"This proposal presents a unique opportunity to preserve mature old-growth forest stands, as well as protect habitat critical to salmon and steelhead recovery," Locke said.

Creating the wilderness area would protect some of the last major salmon spawning streams in Puget Sound and approximately 14,000 acres of low-elevation old growth. Old growth forests have a complex plant structure, which supports a variety of species. The forests surrounding the Skykomish River contain some of the best remaining habitat for threatened
species of wild salmon and steelhead trout. Designation would create a natural recreation area, helping local economies. It would also help maintain access to trailheads, campgrounds, and 470 miles of existing roads in immediately adjacent areas.

The proposal has received significant bipartisan support. "I am pleased that over 120 elected officials from throughout Western Washington, from both political parties, have endorsed this proposal," Locke said.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray in support of the designation has twice passed the U.S. Senate, and Rep. Rick Larsen has introduced similar legislation in the House.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the National Wilderness Preservation Act and the 20th anniversary of the Washington Wilderness Act. That legislation created 23 wilderness areas in the state.



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