February 12, 2019: Success! The major public-lands bill (S. 47 – The Natural Resources Management Act) passed in the U.S. Senate with a vote of 92 – 8. This is the largest bipartisan legislative package of public lands bills assembled by Congress in over a decade which includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as well as legislation to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area.
Our communities, our health, our environment and our economy will all benefit as LWCF continues to preserve pristine natural areas and enhance recreation opportunities across the country. This high impact funding goes hand in hand with the seven year bipartisan effort to designate the Greenway as a National Heritage Area, opening a new era of collaborative conservation through both environmental protection and supporting a thriving economy.
Also included among the 110 bills in the lands package, the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project Phase III Act authorizes an integrative and collaborative approach to addressing water challenges in the Yakima Valley.
Join us in thanking senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray for their hard work getting this to passed in the Senate and for their continued conservation leadership. The next step for the bill is passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. To help the lands bill cross the finish line, contact your representative and ask for their support.
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December 2018: In the final weeks of the 115th United States Congress, the Mountains to Sound Greenway came within inches of designation as a National Heritage Area. While we ultimately fell short amid the whirlwind of activity in Congress, we remain encouraged in knowing that we had strong bipartisan support that carried us so close to the finish line.
Ultimately, and despite passionate support from both sides of the aisle, a procedural objection blocked a vote on the lands package carrying the Greenway designation, along with the legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Though we are disappointed to have fallen short of designation after coming so close, we feel confident that the momentum for designation is on our side, and will assess our path forward in the new year.
June 2018: 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.
Legislation was re-introduced in March of 2017. Senate Bill 713 was introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell, with co-sponsor Senator Patty Murray, and H.R. 1791 was introduced by Congressman Dave Reichert, with co-sponsors Representatives Adam Smith, Suzan DelBene, and Pramila Jayapal. The Senate bill has already passed out of committee and is now awaiting action on the Senate floor.
We are working hard with our delegation to move these bills forward.
Why Create a Greenway Heritage Area
When we are connected with nature, our lives are better. The Mountains to Sound Greenway offers world-class recreation and spectacular open spaces on the doorstep of our urban areas. This high quality of life makes us healthier and happier, and helps attract tourism and top employers that keep our economy strong. Designation of the Greenway National Heritage Area would recognize these strengths and allow the Greenway to serve as a national model for collaborative conservation.
National Heritage Area designation provides a non-regulatory approach to conservation and will not affect private property, water, hunting, fishing or Tribal treaty rights.
Greenway designation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by over 6,500 businesses, governments, non-profits and individuals, including Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Microsoft, Expedia, REI, the Trust for Public Land, and the Mountaineers.