Mountains to Sound bill introduced in Congress
A bill to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area has been re-introduced in Congress, according to a news release.
U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Washington, and Adam Smith, D-Washington, introduced a bill to designate 1.5 million acres along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Ellensburg as a National Heritage Area. The goal of the bill is preserve the area’s scenery, resources and history. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both Washington Democrats, introduced a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.
“Washington’s natural beauty attracts visitors from across the country and globe who want to experience our mountains, rivers, lakes and forests,” Reichert said in the release. “Living with these natural treasures in our backyard has not only taught us the importance of conservation, but have shown us being stewards of the land can also grow our local economy.”
Congress has designated 49 National Heritage Areas nationwide and the Mountains to Sound Greenway would be the first area in Washington with the designation. National Heritage Areas were created to promote local economic growth and tourism and preserve cultural landmarks.
“The recreation economy is one of the largest job creators. Protecting special places like the Mountains to Sound Greenway would help boost tourism to some of Washington state’s most scenic and historic landscapes,” Cantwell said.
National Heritage Areas are partnerships designated by Congress that involve the National Park Service, states and local communities. The Park Service supports local and state efforts to preserve the areas, but no federal regulations are imposed.
A recent economic impact study indicates National Heritage Areas contribute $12.9 billion annually to the national economy and support 148,000 jobs, according to the Park Service. On average, Heritage Areas generate about $263 million in economic activity and support about 3,000 jobs, primarily through tourism and visitor spending.
Other National Heritage Areas nationwide include the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Springfield, Illinois; the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the Baltimore National Heritage Area in Baltimore, Maryland.