Q&A with Amy Brockhaus, coalition director at the Mountains to Sound Greenway
The Mountains to Sound Greenway is an incredible asset to our region. We consider ourselves lucky to work with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and thank Amy Brockhaus, the Trust’s coalition director, for taking the time to answer a few questions about the great work happening throughout the greenway.
Q: What exactly is the Mountains to Sound Greenway?
A: “The Mountains to Sound Greenway landscape encompasses 1.5 million acres of connected natural lands and thriving communities surrounding Interstate 90 between Puget Sound and Central Washington. The Greenway conserves a shared heritage of working forests and farms; parks and natural areas; historic towns and vibrant cities; rivers, lakes and wildlife habitat; all providing limitless outdoor education and recreation opportunities.
“In 1990, the Puget Sound region was on the verge of a significant economic boom with the accompanying increase in population. Unchecked, development could have stretched across the forested hillsides along I-90. Instead, hundreds of citizens, led by members of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, staged a march from Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle waterfront. With the rallying cry to save some of our mag- nificent landscapes before it was too late, Seattle civic leader Jim Ellis brought together a broad coalition of interest groups to work together to balance thoughtful development and conservation. Thus, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust was born in 1991.”
Q: What are some of the key missing links on the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail that you are currently working to fill in?
A: “The Greenway vision is that a walker or bicyclist could travel on safe, enjoyable, non-motorized trails connecting Puget Sound urban areas, the Cascade Mountains, and Central Washington. There are a few significant missing links in an east-west network, which are difficult to fill. The Greenway Trust is working with the City of Bellevue to plan for and fund a 3.6-mile trail connection through the highly urbanized Factoria area. We also work with Washington State Parks to secure funding to repair historic railway tunnels in Iron Horse State Park, the former Milwaukee Road railway through the Cascades. And we are keenly interested in working with Cascade Bicycle Club, City of Seattle and others to design and build a safe, enjoyable connection from the Mountains to Sound Trail on Beacon Hill, across Interstate 5, to the Seattle Waterfront.”
Q: What are you most excited about in respect to the Greenway in the next five years?
A: “No one person or entity can keep the Greenway the wonderful place that we all enjoy. We are thrilled to see the many accomplishments of all of our coalition partners across the Greenway, and here are two major initiatives that should see great progress in the next five years:
Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley
“A gateway into the spectacular natural lands of the Mt. Baker-Sno- qualmie National Forest and Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Middle Fork Valley boasts rugged peaks, expansive forest, a magnificent river, and prime wildlife habitat. Located only a 35-minute drive from downtown Seattle, this valley just outside North Bend has great potential as a recreational destination and economic driver for the population in Washington’s largest metropolitan areas. In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Washington State Department of Natural resources, we launched a major campaign to build new trails, increase capacity for recreational use, install signage and complete restoration projects to improve the ecological health of the basin.
National Heritage Area
“From salmon and coal to timber and recreation, the natural wealth of the Greenway has shaped local culture and history. Native travel ways are interwoven with historic transportation routes still used today. Traces of logging roads and abandoned mines can be found in parks, along with salmon runs and bear dens. To honor this unique regional identity, we are asking the U.S. Congress to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area.”
Q: How can interested community members get involved with the Greenway?
A: “Join us to volunteer to plant trees, remove invasive weeds or maintain trails. Every Saturday throughout the year, volunteers are on the ground making a true posi- tive difference on this landscape. Sign your science classroom up for outdoor education lessons and field study trips. Or contact me or other Greenway staff to learn how to support policy initiatives such as regional trail connections or securing funding for recreation access.”
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