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The Mountains to Sound Greenway is a vital and important resource for everyone

Issaquah Press

As a college student, it’s easy to blame past generations for the rising national debt and any number of other problems my generation will be dealing with as we grow older. But in Washington, my parents’ generation did at least one thing right. Twenty years ago, a group of citizens came together to form the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust to permanently preserve open space in the Northwest.

Amazingly, a coalition of environmentalists and timber companies; developers and farmers; federal and state agencies; cities and counties; nonprofit organizations and businesses have worked toward a shared vision of promoting healthy, livable communities in our area.

The greenway’s 1,600 miles of trails, and hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and parks, have been permanently protected and now it’s time for the next generation to step up to make sure the greenway continues to thrive.

Following 20 years of growth, the greenway now runs from Ellensburg to Seattle’s waterfront, and the Greenway Trust continues to promote land acquisitions, connect the regional trail system, improve recreation access, and create new parks and trails.

From hiking the Snoqualmie Valley or taking in the view from the top of Mount Si, we living in Washington take for granted the outdoor recreation that’s all around us. It takes the effort of thousands of volunteers every year to maintain these natural areas, improve trails and keep the greenway healthy.

While college students are home for the summer, there are dozens of ways to contribute to the greenway. Sign up for a volunteer weekend event clearing a trail or removing invasive species,  volunteer for a youth summer camp, or if you are really ambitious, sign up for the nine-day Greenway March from Ellensburg to Seattle.

The greenway came about because the community saw the threat of rapid population growth, and as the region continues to grow, we have to remain committed to protecting open spaces. College students, business and civic leaders, and people who care about the Pacific Northwest way of life need to continue the work that began 20 years ago.

Enjoy the Seattle area summer, but do your part to help preserve the Pacific Northwest landscape. It’s up to the next generation of Washingtonians to continue the legacy of the Mountains to Sound Greenway and now is the time to get to work.

Jacob McClelland, a sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont., is a Preston resident and avid hiker. He has been a part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway since before he was born. His mother hiked in the original Greenway March from Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle Waterfront in 1990, when she was six months pregnant with him. When Jacob was 10, he went on the Mountains to Sound Greenway’s 10th Anniversary March to raise awareness about this special area that is key to our quality of life in the Pacific Northwest. This summer, Jacob will lead youths in the Mountains to Sound Greenway’s 20th Anniversary Trek, a nine-day hike and bike adventure from Ellensburg to Seattle.

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