The US House of Representatives has just passed legislation to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as National Heritage Area!
This is a major milestone in our region’s bipartisan effort to celebrate and take care of our communities, open spaces, and shared history. To become law, the same bill needs to be passed by the Senate.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway, stretching across the Cascades from Seattle to Central Washington, stands out as a national model for conservation that supports economic development. Since 1991, a broad coalition of government, business, and nonprofit organizations have worked together to protect and improve access to public lands in and around Greenway communities. However, this nearby access is a treasure we have to work to maintain.
National Heritage Area designation will allow land managers and locals to work together more effectively to conserve region’s prized natural and cultural resources. It is a creative, non-regulatory approach to conservation that encourages cooperation among tribal, federal, state, and municipal agencies and local residents to address the growing needs in ecological restoration, outdoor recreation, and cultural heritage as our communities continue to grow. The legislation will uphold treaty rights and protect private property rights.
Passage of the legislation has been successful in a frequently gridlocked Congress because our Washington delegation has modeled true bipartisan collaboration. Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Adam Smith have consistently worked across the aisle to reach this high point in a campaign that started in 2013. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without an enormous effort from the congressional delegation throughout the Greenway, including Congresswoman DelBene and Congresswoman Jayapal.
Passage of the House legislation brings us one step closer to successful designation. Fortunately, our next hurdle in the Senate is in the capable hands of Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Senator Cantwell, as ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has shown tremendous leadership over the years, ushering the bill all the way to the Senate floor within three months of introduction during this 115th Congress.
With the impressive teamwork of our delegation to Congress, we hope this region will soon reap the benefits of this new approach to collaborative conservation.