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You Can Help the Mountains to Sound Greenway Become a National Heritage Area

Posted by Francakes at Apr 21, 2015 03:40 PM |

If you've hiked in the Puget Sound region or Central Cascades, you've probably hiked in the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Now it could become a National Heritage Area.

A view of Garfield Mountain from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River upstream trail in the Moutains to Sound Greenway. Photo by QuitaCoug.

If you have done any hiking in the Puget Sound region or in the Central Cascades, you have almost certainly hiked in the Mountains to Sound Greenway. The area stretches across more than 100 miles along I-90 from the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, over Snoqualmie Pass and into Central Washington to Ellensburg.

This has long been a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds in Washington, but now the Washington Outdoor Alliance -- a partnership with outdoor recreation groups including WTA, The Mountaineers, American Whitewater, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and the Access Fund -- is working with Outdoor Alliance, a national outdoor recreation group, to help the Greenway receive national recognition as an official National Heritage Area.

What is a National Heritage Area?

A National Heritage Area (NHA) designation is a federal designation that recognizes the nation’s historic and cultural importance. It also allows agencies like the National Park Service and Forest Service to share costs for things like bathroom maintenance at shared trailheads or even to share staff, such as a wildlife biologist or conservation corps crews.

NHA designation can also open doors for new partnerships and funding opportunities and make it easier to conduct land restoration across landscapes managed by multiple property owners.

It does not change who owns the land or add new government oversight or requirements to land managers and property owners. It also does not directly provide new funding for the area. It also does not change hunting, fishing or water rights.

How does this benefit hikers and communities?

The benefits aren’t restricted to just land managers. Increased funding opportunities mean hikers could see improvements at trailheads, trail repairs or even new access opportunities.

Gateway communities can benefit greatly from recognition like an NHA designation because it increases awareness of an area, which can bring increased tourism and spending at local businesses.

How you can help

Sign the Outdoor Alliance’s petition to Congress. Our elected officials need to hear from people like you who use and treasure the 1,600 miles of trails that are within the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

The goal is to collect 1,000 signatures by May 15.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust has been spearheading this effort in addition to their conservation work in the area. To learn more about the campaign, view a map of the proposed NHA or go to the campaign page.

Sign the petition and then tell us about your favorite Greenway hikes in the comments.