House approves long-delayed Wild Sky Wilderness bill

After five years of delay, the House has passed a bill creating a 167-square-mile Wild Sky Wilderness area in northern Washington state. The bill had been approved by the Senate three times in recent years, but stalled out each time in the Republican-led House, with former California Rep. Richard Pombo fingered as the man responsible for standing squarely in the way. “The protection of the Wild Sky Wilderness … heralds a wilderness revival in Congress,” says Sean Cosgrove, a national forest policy specialist with the Sierra Club. “The Wild Sky Wilderness Act is just the first in what we hope will be a flood of legislation providing sound stewardship of America’s last wild places.” The bill now goes to the Senate; President Bush has said he will sign it if it reaches his desk. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called passage of the bill — which reflects a compromise among conservationists, county officials, and recreationists — a “huge victory. By this summer we’ll be up at Wild Sky celebrating.”