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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Press Release - King County resolution supporting American Alps

April 26, 2010

King County Council joins effort to expand North Cascades National Park

Motion calls on Congress to designate new park and wilderness lands

The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its support to a plan to protect federal lands around the North Cascades National Park. The Council unanimously adopted a motion calling on the U.S. Congress to expand the boundaries of the park to include the American Alps Study Area.

“The North Cascades are an important part of the Pacific Northwest environment, and contribute to the natural beauty and recreation opportunities that enhance our quality of life,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson, who has climbed and hiked throughout the North Cascades. “Now that my wife Colleen and I are introducing our toddler twins to the great outdoors, I appreciate how important it is to preserve this treasured natural resource for future generations.”

“This action will make the North Cascades complete by including lands left out of the original preservation effort begun 40 years ago by citizens and Senator Scoop Jackson,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “An expanded North Cascades Park will be critical for protecting headwaters that lead to Puget Sound, preserving wildlife habitat, addressing climate change, and providing recreational opportunities for our growing population.”

The North Cascades Conservation Council, through the American Alps Legacy Project, is seeking to build support for the effort to expand the boundaries of the North Cascades National Park. At the park’s inception in 1968, its boundaries were significantly reduced compared to the area considered worthy of protection by early advocates.

“The North Cascade Mountain Range is a local and national treasure,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “The Council’s support of this motion is an important step towards preserving areas that are currently unprotected. The value of the North Cascades to our community and to future generations is immense.”

“I have always been an advocate of opportunities to protect and preserve our environment,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “We live in a region rich in natural resources from sea shores to mountain peaks; the outdoors is what makes the Pacific Northwest a sought after place to call home.”

Today’s legislation supports the efforts to expand the park’s boundaries to include the American Alps Study Area, which would provide permanent protection for land with important habitat, watershed, and recreation value. Areas currently outside the park include the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, the Baker River/Baker Lake area, Sauk Mountain, the Cascade River valley, the Liberty Bell and Early Winters areas east of the Cascade ridge, and others. The study area land is currently only protected from development by administrative provisions of the United State Forest Service.

“Protecting these lands will finish the work that began over forty years ago and complete the North Cascades National Park,” said Jim Davis, Executive Director of the North Cascades Conservation Council. “We appreciate the support of the King County Council for our park protection efforts in the North Cascades.”

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