Monday, April 14, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Another step closer

After a long, frustrating slog through the corridors of Congress, the Wild Sky Wilderness bill is a couple of big steps away from being reality. Everyone is excited, yes, but also as skittish as an All-Star squad of superstitious baseball players.

The legislation passed the Senate Thursday for the fourth time. Washington Sen. Patty Murray and her Democratic colleague from Snohomish County, Rep. Rick Larsen, were festive but guarded because of years of setbacks. They have held this together from the start.The legislation, approved 91-4, returns to the House of Representatives as a part of a public lands and natural resources package. Approval via a technical, procedural vote, would send the law to the White House for the president's signature. The Bush administration long ago committed support.

Success — if the legislation is finally approved — will be worth all the fight. Wild Sky draws together 106,000 acres of beloved low-elevation forests and rivers in eastern Snohomish County, in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

No one wants to jinx a bill that has been pummeled, held hostage and resuscitated so many times. But with victory in sight, Murray was eager to recognize a critical factor: the bipartisan support of Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo. She lavishly praised his work to help make Wild Sky happen.

Nothing is final, but the end of a long, rocky trail is in sight.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company


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