Update 5/10: The House Natural Resources just held full committee markup and passed a slate of bills including HR 1791, the Greenway NHA Act, by unanimous consent.
Good news for western Washington and all those who love the Mountains to Sound Greenway: this week, the House Natural Resources Committee held a successful hearing on National Heritage Area (NHA) designation for the Greenway.
The Greenway is a 1.5-million-acre outdoor recreation paradise, running from Seattle to Ellensburg. It’s home to 1,600 miles of trails, the stunning Cascade Crest, excellent whitewater runs, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, rock climbing routes, and mountain biking. Outdoor Alliance and our partners at Washington Outdoor Alliance, including The Mountaineers, American Whitewater, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Washington Climbers Coalition, Washington Trails Association, American Alpine Club, and El Sendero, along with the Greenway Trust, have worked toward the NHA designation for a number of years.
Tom Vogl, CEO of The Mountaineers, said, "The trails and peaks of the Mountains to Sound Greenway is a treasured landscape for the more than 13,000 members of The Mountaineers. We very frequently hike, climb, ski and simply enjoy ourselves in the wild places of the Greenway. We’re so fortunate to have access to wild places like this, so close to where many of us live and work. We urge the members of the House Natural Resources Committee to support H.R. 1791 to give this landscape the designation of National Heritage Area, which will help ensure it will be conserved and enjoyed for generations to come."
Outdoor Alliance's Executive Director, Adam Cramer, said, "Outdoor Alliance and our regional network in Washington are thrilled to see National Heritage Area legislation move forward. The Mountains to Sound Greenway is treasured by the outdoor recreation community, with abundant opportunities for whitewater paddling, mountain biking, climbing, and skiing. The NHA legislation is an innovative approach to recognize and celebrate this treasured landscape. Outdoor Alliance admires the diversity of stakeholders involved in celebrating the Greenway's geography, and we have been delighted to be involved in the process."
Wednesday's hearing, championed by Congressman Dave Reichert, was an important step toward passing the legislation. What happens next? The bill needs to go through mark-up, where committee members can offer amendments. The marked-up bill would then be referred out of committee to be considered for passage by approval of the full House. Senator Cantwell has introduced and championed the same bill on the Senate side.
We’re psyched about this news. The Greenway matters tremendously to the Seattle and western Washington region, and the positive House hearing reflects the strong local support for the NHA designation. You can learn more about the Greenway here.