At long last, it’s official: Washington gets a new wilderness area, the Wild Sky. It’s 100,000 acres of streams, forests, lakes, and mountains on the west side of the Cascades.
Big congratulations are in order to the hundreds of people who worked to win this designation. The Wild Sky political process was an epic. First proposed in 2002, the nascent wilderness area was an exercise in tenacity. Last week, when the bill finally passed out of Congress, Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly had a nice article on the context and history. (Also good coverage last week from Seattle Times reporter Warren Cornwall, here.)
New wilderness designation in the Northwest has been tough to come by lately. But 2008 looks to be a promising year. As High Country News reports, the Wild Sky may be the first of several in the West: these include more than 500,000 acres in the Owyhee country of southwestern Idaho (the first wilderness in 30 years in that state); plus 264,000 acres in Utah (some of which is already in Zion National Park); and if we’re lucky, a small but important new wilderness on the Oregon Coast that would protect nearly 14,000 acres in an area dubbed the Copper Salmon.