Advocating for the National Heritage Area Program in the “Other” Washington

Nicky Pasi, Kittitas Programs Manager and Caroline Villanova, National Heritage Area Coordination Manager

We traded in our Carhartts and trail runners for blazers and . . . okay, Blundstones really can do it all . . . during a week of advocacy in Washington, DC.  As the coordinating entity for the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area (Greenway NHA), Greenway Trust staff are part of a collective of NHAs across the country, comprising the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA). In DC, these NHAs came together to advocate for funding on behalf of all NHAs, knowing very well that our voices are stronger together, as seen in the recent passing of National Heritage Area landmark legislation (S.1942).

Today, there are more than 60 NHAs throughout the country, some with coordinating entities still writing their management plans (we are acutely aware of the monumental lift that requires) and many with decades-long experience as an NHA. Federal dollars support the impactful work of each NHA, and we multiply the impact of that support by matching it with state, local, and individual contributions. The ANHA’s approach of advocating for all NHAs wholistically has led to a more than $10 million increase for the program over the past six years.

To keep the program whole this year, we are requesting $34 million from the United States Congress. We made this request in meetings with our Washington delegation in their DC offices and with staff from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. All things considered, this is actually a modest request, reflective of the fiscally challenging year expected. This amount simply keeps funding for the authorized NHAs the same, while providing enough resources to support new NHAs and those who just recently had their management plans approved, like the Greenway NHA and Maritime Washington NHA (Washington states’ newest and only NHAs!). Just as importantly, it prevents any funding cuts from existing NHAs. In a system where more family at the table can mean smaller pieces of the pie all around, we are working to make a bigger pie.

Nicky and Caroline with Congresswoman Kim Schrier

In addition to advocacy, last week was also about celebration and appreciation alongside other NHAs and partners. Celebrating the uniqueness of the National Heritage Area Program, National Park Service Director Chuck Sams III reflected:

“National Heritage Areas represent the unique fabric of America and serve as points of community pride, where locals and visitors alike can come together in the spirit of unity and share in collective experiences.”

Upon returning back to Washington State and the familiar landscape and wardrobe of the Greenway NHA, we continue to advocate on behalf of the work of all NHAs throughout the country.

Would you like to support the Greenway NHA? Contact your Washington representative with the following message:

Thank you for your support of Washington state’s two National Heritage Areas – the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area and the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area. To ensure the ongoing impact of these NHAs in Washington and for the 60+ NHAs across the country, please support the $34 million request for FY 24 in appropriations for the NHA Program (officially Heritage Partnership Program in appropriations bills). Thank you!