Welcome to the newest National Heritage Area!

Our local pride and joy is now officially a national treasure. After eight years of tireless advocacy, the Mountains to Sound Greenway has become our nation’s newest National Heritage Area (NHA).

The Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area 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. National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.

As communities across the Greenway undergo massive growth, this designation offers new opportunities to more effectively conserve natural resources, preserve and share cultural heritage, and contribute to the economic vitality of the region. Specifically, goals of the Mountains to Sound Greenway NHA are to:

  • Amplify the region’s rich history and natural heritage through interpretive and educational programming for the public
  • Increase visibility for communities across the Greenway NHA through an enhanced sense of place and opportunities to engage
  • Encourage ecological restoration across multiple jurisdictions and watersheds.
  • Grow funding opportunities through private and public partnerships and interagency coordination
  • Promote regional tourism and attract new economic opportunities

Designation as a National Heritage Area requires an act of Congress. The Greenway National Heritage Area legislation was originally introduced in 2013 by U.S. Representatives Dave Reichert and Adam Smith and Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. And it would not have been possible without the entire congressional delegation’s persistence and collaboration, including U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene, Pramila Jayapal, and Kim Schrier.

In this era of partisanship, we are especially proud that the Greenway NHA designation resulted from strong bipartisan collaboration and the endorsement of more than 6,500 individuals, and public and private partners including Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Microsoft, Expedia, REI Co-op, the Trust for Public Land, and the Mountaineers.

The NHA designation is not only a win for our state but will also allow the Greenway to serve as a national model for collaborative conservation. It is a creative, non-regulatory approach to conservation that is rooted in cooperation among tribal, federal, state, and municipal agencies, and local residents.


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 recognizes these strengths and allows the Greenway to serve as a national model for collaborative conservation.

National Heritage Area designation provides a non-regulatory approach to conservation and does not affect private property, water, hunting, fishing or Tribal treaty rights.


Next Steps

As the named coordinating entity, the Greenway Trust will aim to reach every community and every corner of the 1.5 million acre landscape to engage an inclusive coalition of people as stewards of their public lands, trails, natural resources and cultural heritage. The overarching care for the Greenway, the people who live here, and the connections between them, is the driver of the NHA vision to inspire action to protect and enhance this place we all love.