The long, legislative slog to create the Wild Sky Wilderness in eastern Snohomish County is a textbook case of lessons learned. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, paid...

The long, legislative slog to create the Wild Sky Wilderness in eastern Snohomish County is a textbook case of lessons learned. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, paid attention.

His proposal to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, east of North Bend, and designate the Pratt River as wild and scenic, has drawn broad praise from local community leaders, politicians and environmental and recreational groups. Every pat on the back is a reflection of the consultations and care that went into drafting his bill. Wild Sky, which awaits action in the U.S. Senate, was patiently put together in the same fashion — a bill done right, as one Idaho congressman noted long ago. But the legislation, shepherded by Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., faced a monumental impediment, a committee chairman named Richard Pombo, whom California voters disposed of last fall.

Even without Pombo around, Reichert’s plan to expand the boundaries of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness needed the patient attention he gave it. A popular 13-mile mountain bike trail was excluded. He checked to ensure there was no conflict with avalanche work near the Interstate 90 pass; the Snoqualmie Tribe weighed in; ski areas were accounted for, as was a busy hot springs.

An expanded Alpine Lakes Wilderness, approximately 22,000 more acres all inside Reichert’s 8th District, picks up the lowland forests excluded when the original wilderness was carved out in 1976.

Reichert’s proposal burnishes a public treasure that lies within a short drive of a major metropolitan area. Alpine Lakes and Wild Sky demonstrate what can be done, and the attention to detail to get it accomplished.