The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (MTSGT) announced on Monday, June 25, 2018 that the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to designate The Mountains to Sound Greenway – which stretches across the Cascades from Seattle to Ellensburg – as a National Heritage Area.
A bipartisan group has been working to gain this designation for the Mountains to Sound Greenway, which stands out as a national model for conservation that supports economic development. For nearly three decades a broad coalition of Washington State government, businesses and nonprofits have worked to together to protect and improve access to public lands located in and around Greenway communities, which includes Snoqualmie Valley cities.
The recently passed legislation is considered a major milestone in the effort for National Heritage Area designation. To officially become law, the same bill needs to be passed by the Senate.
Senate legislation passed out of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in March 2017. In April 2018 the House’s Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the designation and then rather swiftly passed its legislation. According to MTSGT, the bill is now awaiting action on the senate floor.
Per the MTSGT announcement:
“Passage of the House legislation brings us one step closer to successful designation. Fortunately, our next hurdle in the Senate is in the capable hands of Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Senator Cantwell, as ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has shown tremendous leadership over the years, ushering the bill all the way to the Senate floor within three months of introduction during this 115th Congress.”
Mountains to Sound Greenway says a National Heritage Area Designation will:
- Celebrate and interpret the rich history and natural heritage that makes this a unique place in the nation.
- Increase the visibility of the communities in the Greenway through an enhanced sense of place and importance.
- Enhance funding opportunities through private and public partnerships.
- Enable agencies to share staff, such as a wildlife biologist or conservation corps crews.
- Encourage interagency collaboration on trails with multiple land owners for maintenance and signage.
- Create a branding campaign for the Greenway to increase tourism.
- Allow ecological restoration across multiple jurisdictions, property owners, and watersheds.