On June 15, 2016, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust announced that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on a bill to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area.
MTSGT said the legislation has broad-based, bipartisan support with over 6,500 individuals and local and national organizations endorsing it.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway is a 1.5 million-acre landscape connecting Puget Sound and central Washington by promoting a continuous regional trail system, preserving rural lifestyles, teaching residents about forests and wildlife, and mobilizing thousands of volunteers to care for the landscape.
“The Mountains to Sound Greenway is emblematic of the natural beauty of our state and a reminder that conservation is critical to economic vitality. I understand firsthand the importance of these resources to local communities for cultivating a strong sense of volunteerism, responsibility to the environment and ties between communities,” Senator Maria Cantwell, ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee said. “I am proud to work with Senator Patty Murray on this, and I am glad the committee received testimony on this important piece of legislation.”
“We applaud Senators Cantwell and Murray for their strong leadership in sponsoring the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area legislation in the Senate,” said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.
“This bill benefits residents and visitors to Washington State and helps support our rural and outdoor recreation economies,” said Hoekstra. “The hearing moves this bill one step closer to reality and we hope this momentum will continue and that the bill is enacted this session.”
Companion legislation was introduced and is being moved forward in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Dave Reichert, and co-sponsors Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, and Suzan DelBene.
“Seattle is one of the fastest growing major cities in the nation as more people move here for the combination of economic opportunity and the natural environment that sets this region apart from all others,” said Kurt Fraese, President of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.
“Having the Greenway designated as a National Heritage Area is more important than ever,” said Fraese. “Our region should continue to be a model for thoughtful growth that keeps our economy strong while maintaining a long-term balance between people and nature. This designation will help ensure the Greenway remains a special place to live, work, and play for generations to come.”
The National Heritage Area program provides a non-regulatory approach to conservation. Designation encourages cooperation with local communities to develop a shared vision for the landscape, and facilitates interagency collaboration to carry it out.