Photo by Jacob McGinnis

About the National Heritage Area

In March 2019, the Mountains to Sound Greenway was officially designated as a National Heritage Area (NHA). The Greenway NHA stretches nearly 100 miles from the shores of Puget Sound, across the peaks of the Cascade Mountains, to the fields of Central Washington. Since time immemorial, Salish peoples have lived, traveled, shaped, and cared for these lands and waterways in what is now known as the Greenway NHA. To this day, tribal members continue their unbroken chain of stewarding the landscape. 

Throughout history, the valleys and corridors of this landscape have provided an abundance of natural resources and healthy ecosystems for fish, wildlife, and people to thrive. Many distinct groups of people have all had varying, and ever-changing, relationships to this place. These interactions and diverse perspectives create a tapestry of stories to be told, and endless opportunities for learning, shared leadership, and collaboration. The Greenway NHA honors the historical and cultural significance of this place, and helps to preserve and celebrate its living heritage. 

What is a National Heritage Area? 

NHAs are places designated by Congress where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. NHAs promote an integrated and cooperative approach for protecting, enhancing, and interpreting the natural, cultural, historic, scenic, and recreational resources of the NHA while upholding tribal rights and protecting private property rights. 

The Greenway NHA proudly joins 54 other NHA sites in 32 states, including iconic and historic landscapes such as New York’s Niagara Falls, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, and North Carolina’s Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Click here to learn about the other NHAs across the country from the National Park Service. 

What are the Greenway NHA Goals?

In fulfilling the legislative duties of the NHA, the Greenway NHA seeks to achieve goals that reflect a combination of traditional conservation and historic preservation, interpretive aspirations, and a commitment to building more diverse and inclusive partnerships:

  • Amplify the region’s rich history and natural heritage through interpretive and educational programming for the public.
  • Uplift the region’s tribal heritage and provide a platform for native voices to tell stories of their peoples and be closely involved in ongoing stewardship of the NHA.
  • Promote pride of place and connections to nature in Greenway communities through appreciation of local heritage and stewardship of natural resources.
  • Protect and steward natural, cultural, and historic resources through historic preservation, ecological restoration, and collaborative conservation strategies.
  • Grow funding opportunities through private and public partnerships and interagency coordination.
  • Promote responsible recreation activities and heritage-based tourism that are positively linked to protection of NHA resources.

What is the Greenway Trust’s Role in the NHA? 

The Greenway Trust was appointed as the coordinating entity of the new NHA, a role for which our collaborative, inclusive organization is uniquely suited. For more than 30 years, the Greenway Trust has led a broad-based coalition toward a vision of preserving a healthy balance between people and nature between Seattle and Ellensburg. 

What Are the Greenway NHA Themes?

Five Themes articulate the distinctive and defining characteristics of the Mountains to Sound Greenway NHA and serve to guide deeper exploration and understanding of the Greenway landscape and its history and heritage. Each Theme is further elaborated and expanded by more specific associated narratives. 

  • The eyes, voices, and teachings of the FIRST PEOPLE of these lands impart understanding of the Heritage Area from time immemorial to  the present day.
  • The powerful forces of geology and climate create a LANDSCAPE of cultural and natural diversity across the Greenway.
  • The Greenway provides CORRIDORS for wildlife migration, fish passage and human travel.
  • Human RELATIONSHIPS WITH NATURE have shaped the landscape and the culture of the Greenway.
  • The cultural and natural heritage of the Greenway informs our future RESILIENCE and the restoration and renewal of the ecosystems that sustain all life.