In a time of tight state budgets and increased demand for preserved natural areas, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is looking to get the area designated as a National Heritage Area. This would increase opportunities for grants and strengthen existing partnerships that make the 100-mile greenway possible.
The greenway follows the I-90 corridor. A recent extension of the trail brings it a little closer to Puget Sound, terminating (awkwardly) at Holgate on the west side of Beacon Hill. There are also plans to someday connect the trail from Beacon Hill to the International District.
A Heritage designation could also help to tell the story of the MTS greenway as a culturally-important stretch of America and help spread awareness of it.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway connects Puget Sound and Central Washington and is a national success story. In 1991, a broad coalition of stakeholders crafted a vision for a sustainable balance between the region’s built and natural environments. For the past twenty years, Greenway partners have worked together to achieve this vision of accessible natural areas, livable communities, productive working lands and incomparable scenic beauty.
Maintaining this balance is a growing challenge. Public land managers struggle with safety and sanitation in an age of shrinking budgets, while demand for outdoor recreation continues to grow. It is essential to carefully manage forests and natural areas that clean our air and water. Critical steps must also be taken to ensure that our cities remain attractive and dynamic, accommodating smart development and serve as catalysts for economic growth.
The designation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area by the U.S. Congress is a key strategy in preserving this iconic landscape.
Official recognition of the Greenway will strengthen a sense of place, enhance funding opportunities, empower partners to work together more efficiently, and formalize the Greenway coalition’s cooperative management style across this broad landscape.
At the same time, a National Heritage Area Designation will not affect private property or water/fishing rights or add regulatory authority.
What a National Heritage Designation WILL and WILL NOT DO.
The Greenway Trust conducted an extensive study on the future of the Greenway that included active community participation of over 1,000 stakeholders. Government agencies, local businesses and conservation organizations support the designation of the Greenway as a National Heritage Area.
Here’s a draft of the National Heritage designation feasibility study: