Update: Mountains to Sound Greenway Legislation Gets a Hearing
In spring 2015, over 3,100 of you signed a petition to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area (NHA), more than doubling the number of petition signatures to date. Last week, this legislation took an important step forward in Congress, when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing that included consideration of the NHA bill.
Progress comes thanks to the dedicated efforts of bill champion Senator Maria Cantwell bolstered with strong support from the outdoor community. The many Mountaineers, who contact our legislators about the personal importance of the Greenway, provide authentic credibility to the issue—you are the recreationists hiking, climbing, and skiing out there!
In April, Katherine Hollis, Conservation and Advocacy Director at The Mountaineers, met with Senator Cantwell and her staff in Washingto D.C., as well as Congressman’s Reichert’s office, to discuss the possibility of a hearing. Being able to start conversations with legislators by saying “3,100 of our members signed a petition in support of this and you heard directly from hundreds of us” is incredibly powerful and helped get this bill included in the hearing.
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
The legislation—introduced as The Greenway National Heritage Area Bill—is a unique opportunity to protect 1.5 million acres of land, extending from the Seattle waterfront to Ellensburg. The Greenway is an outdoor recreation paradise, home to 1,600 miles of trails, whitewater runs, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing terrain, rock climbing routes, mountain biking, and views of the stunning Cascade Crest.
Heritage designation takes a collaborative, non-regulatory approach, providing a framework for land managers to better collaborate on resources like trails and trailheads, work on ecological restoration, increase tourism, and more. It builds on our deep heritage of valuing the wild places at our city's doorsteps and integrating conservation within our vibrant economy.
Greenway designation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by over 6,500 businesses, governments, nonprofits and individuals. Supporters include Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Kittitas County Commissioners, Microsoft, Expedia, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, the Nature Conservancy, Washington Trails Association, and The Mountaineers, among many more.