Wild Sky Breaks New Ground for Western Wilderness
After nine years of planning, organizing, mapping, photographing, letter-writing, lobbying elected officials, presenting slideshows, and leading tours, Sierra Club volunteers and staff celebrated in early May when the Wild Sky Wilderness Act was signed into law—the first new designated national forest wilderness in Washington State since 1984.
"Wild Sky breaks the mold for western wilderness areas because it protects lower-elevation lands and rivers systems, as well as previously logged areas with old logging roads from many decades ago that have grown back into beautiful wild forests," says Cascade Chapter national forest activist Mark Lawler, one of the leaders in the campaign. "Previously, Congress wanted only pristine, never-touched lands. We wanted to start extending the wilderness system down into the valleys, into productive forests and salmon habitat."
The Sierra Club's push for Wild Sky really began a generation ago, in 1988, when the local forest committee decided to adopt a section of national forest trail in the Skykomish Ranger District, get it into shape, and build a cadre of volunteers to lead outings there. The end result is 106,000 acres of new wilderness that now combine with the Glacier Peak and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Areas to protect a contiguous wild swath stretching from the Skykomish River near Seattle all the way over the Cascade Crest to the upper reaches of the Wenatchee River. "It's the rich habitat that really sets Wild Sky apart," says Lawler. "It's a significant leap for us in the Pacific Northwest."
Read more about the Club's campaign for Wild Sky and see more photos here.
Photos by Mark Lawler.