June 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Snoqualmie Pass Among 10 Most Threatened Wild Areas

Associated Press
 

Environmentally sensitive lands in the United States face a range of threats, from oil drilling and military exercises to suburban sprawl, the Wilderness Society said in listing lands it considers the nation’s 10 most threatened wild areas.

The environmental advocates put at the top of the list, released Saturday, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in far northern Alaska, which oil companies have eyed for years as a source of petroleum. Congress would have to approve such drilling.

Snoqualmie Pass made the society’s list, as did Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, where oil drilling has been proposed.

President Clinton designated the Utah monument last year by blocking attempts to develop huge coal reserves. But Conoco, a subsidiary of Dupont, has plans for exploratory drilling within the monument under existing federal oil leases.

A proposed mine was cited as the reason the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, 400,000 acres of wooded marsh land in Georgia and Florida, made the list of threatened lands. The mine on 38,000 acres at the eastern border of the refuge poses an environmental threat, the group said.

In northern California and Oregon, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge made the list. The group said it is being threatened by widespread diversion of water, causing marshes at times to dry up.

The refuge features millions of geese, ducks and shore birds and the largest collection of bald eagles in the lower 48 states.

Expanded military flights and training activities are posing environmental threats to sensitive areas in Arizona, Idaho and California, the wilderness group said.

It listed the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona as being threatened by a proposal to substantially increase military training flights from a nearby Air Force base and a Marine air station.

The group said the Owythee Canyonland in Idaho will be damaged by a planned new Air Force electronic combat bombing range that will cause supersonic jets to crisscross the isolated region.

And more than 331,000 acres of southern California desert, faces a threat from Army plans to expand its tank warfare training facilities near Fort Irwin.

In upstate New York, urban sprawl was blamed for threatening parts of the Adirondack Park because of the proposed sale of 15,000 acres of the Whitney Estate, the park’s largest family-owned estate. A 41-lot subdivision is planned on the estate.

Road building through a patchwork of federal and private land in the Snoqualmie Pass region of Washington state is raising anxiety and put that region on the Wilderness Society’s list.

The roadless federal lands serve as “a habitat bridge” for an assortment of wildlife, the group said.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness area in Minnesota is threatened by renewed attempts to expand use of motorized vehicles, motorboats and snowmobiles.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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