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Protect Mountains to Sound Greenway, Contact Your Legislators Today

Posted by Francakes at Mar 18, 2016 04:05 PM |

Decision makers need to hear from local voices that protecting the Greenway is a priority.

The view from Thorp Mountain within the Greenway. Photo by wanderdoc.

Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Dave Reichert have re-introduced legislation to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area, but we need to secure a hearing this spring for the designation to move forward. This bill was also introduced last year and more than 3,000 Washingtonians signed a petition to support the bill.

We need your support again. Senator Cantwell and Representative Reichert need to hear from local voices that protecting the Greenway is a priority. Please send them an email asking for a hearing for the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

What is the Mountains to Sound Greenway?

Stretching from Puget Sound to Ellensburg, the Mountains to Sound Greenway is a 1.5 million-acre landscape with more than 1,600 miles of trail that has sustained generations through an abundance of natural and recreational resources.

Alpine peaks, wilderness lakes, working farms and lush forests within the Greenway are connected by roads and trails, offering local residents and visitors a place to live, work and play in communities deeply rooted to the land around them.

National heritage area designation

A national heritage area is a large, lived-in area designated by 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. Official recognition of the Greenway would:

  • Create a framework for communicating the national significance of the Greenway.
  • Build public awareness, recognition and involvement in stewardship of the Greenway.
  • Empower citizens, businesses, interest groups and government to work together more efficiently.
  • Provide a legal structure to enable governments to work together across jurisdictions.
  • Name the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust as the local coordinating entity.

Sharing your support

You can share your support of the legislation online by using #GreenwayNHA and by contacting Senator Cantwell and Representative Reichert.


Heritage Area Designation?

Having read the material here and elsewhere, I'm still not clear on the benefits of Heritage Area designation for the Greenway. The benefits listed above are very vague in terms of actual results. Will it result in improvements on the ground for trails and associated resources? Does it add to existing protections for municipal, state and federal lands? If so, what are those additional protections and are they legally binding? On another tack, how much will this designation cost in terms of signage, meetings, public information, wages for participants, etc. and are those costs justified by actual results? These are just a few questions that come to mind. In an era where non-profit and government organizations are struggling for trails funding, we should be asking these questions and considering the actual cost of this Heritage Area designation and what it really means, if it means anything tangible. Could the money spent on that be better spent elsewhere?

Posted by:

MT Hedly on Apr 08, 2016 03:55 PM

Re: Heritage Area Designation?

Hi MT Hedly, thanks for your thoughtful questions. One of the biggest benefits of Heritage Area designation is giving the area more national visibility, which could increase tourism and benefit the local economy. It would also allow for new partnerships between public and private entities, such as cost sharing to maintain trailhead facilities. To address your question about the cost versus cost benefit, I recommend viewing this feasibility study from 2010:,-265,679

Thanks again for joining the conversation and let me know if you have any other questions.

Posted by:

Francakes on Apr 11, 2016 09:23 AM