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Redesignation of Lower Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness to Wilderness (2012)

North Cascades National Park Service Complex » Redesignation of Lower Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness to Wilderness (2012) » Document List

When the Stephen Mather Wilderness was established in 1988 by the Washington Parks Wilderness Act, two contiguous areas that were eligible for wilderness designation, the lower Big Beaver Valley and Lower Thunder Creek Valley, were designated as potential wildernesses rather than included in the Stephen Mather Wilderness. At the time, Seattle City Light (SCL), a hydroelectric utility with the City of Seattle, retained rights for hydroelectric development in these valleys and thereby created an incompatible use in what could have been designated wilderness. The 1988 Act, however, also gave the National Park Service the administrative authority, via publication of a notice in the Federal Register, to designate as wilderness any lands designated as potential wilderness which no longer have uses that are inconsistent with the Wilderness Act of 1964.

In April 2008, Seattle City Light formally abandoned hydroelectric development plans within the Lower Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness Area - determining the proposal was not economically or environmentally feasible. This decision removed the potential for development of incompatible uses within the Lower Thunder Creek Valley, thereby providing the opportunity for the National Park Service to officially convert the potential wilderness area to designated wilderness for inclusion within the Stephen Mather Wilderness.

On September 14, 2012, a notice was published in the Federal Register, formally announcing Seattle City Light's decision to remove all threat of incompatible uses within the Lower Thunder Creek Potential Wilderness and converting all 3,559 acres of this potential wilderness area to designated wilderness within the Stephen Mather Wilderness.

Contact Information

Jack Oelfke, Chief of Resources Management
810 State Route 20
Sedro Woolley, WA 98283
360-854-7205