Guest post by Margaret Ullmann at the Greenway Trust with breaking news about Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area campaign:
Bipartisan legislation was introduced today to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area. Senate legislation was introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and House legislation was introduced by Congressmen Dave Reichert and Adam Smith.
Our region is unique to the rest of the nation, with our spectacular outdoors, world-class recreation, and vibrant economy. We have a deep heritage of placing great value on our healthy relationship with the vast natural landscapes on the doorsteps of our cities.
Official recognition as a National Heritage Area will help tell the story of our region’s commitment to conserving the natural world in balance with the people who live here, and serve as a model of collaborative conservation for the nation.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert, who are strong champions in caring for this unique heritage and pushing for the creation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.
Greenway designation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by over 5,000 businesses, governments, nonprofits and individuals. Supporters include Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Kittitas County Commissioners, Microsoft, Expedia, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, the Nature Conservancy, and Washington Trails Association, among many more.
To move this legislation through Congress, it is important that they hear from local residents about how much they value this region and its high quality of life. Sign the petition or send a support letter. Or voice support online with #YesGreenwayNHA.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway encompasses 1.5 million acres of public and private land from Seattle to Central Washington. The scenic beauty of the Greenway is the backdrop for the daily lives of millions of residents. Alpine peaks, wilderness lakes, expansive forests connect by road, rail and trail to rural communities and downtown high rises.
This legislation will promote local economic growth from tourism and outdoor recreation, so it attracts the support of business leaders and community members alike. As a non-regulatory framework, designation will not affect private property rights or mandate federal oversight of public land.
Legislation to create the Greenway National Heritage Area was originally introduced last Congress. With the tireless efforts of champions Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert, the legislationpassed out of committees in both chambers, but did not receive a final vote from Congress before the end of the year.
A National Heritage Area is a large, lived-in area designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a landscape of national distinction. This designation provides a flexible strategy to encourage residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to collaboratively plan and implement projects to preserve a landscape, without affecting private property rights.
Reintroduction also comes on the heels of another recent success: in May over 3,000 local hikers, bikers, climbers, and kayakers voiced their support for Greenway National Heritage Area designation, thanks to Outdoor Alliance.
Want to help? If you haven't already, sign the petition today to demonstrate your support. If you're already signed (thanks, you rule!), ask a friend or family member who loves the Greenway to support the designation today.