Beginning in 1990, the vision of a Mountains to Sound Greenway focused on conserving natural areas through public land acquisitions and exchanges in order to protect a connected green corridor surrounding Interstate 90. By 2008, many of the key purchases had been completed and attention began to shift toward the long-term stewardship of these lands. After studying a wide variety of options that have worked in other locations, the Greenway Trust determined that the cooperative framework of a “National Heritage Area” would provide the perfect means to accomplish long-term stewardship goals.
The first step in pursuing the National Heritage Area designation was to complete a feasibility study to determine if the region meets the eligibility criteria put forth by the National Park Service. The Greenway began this study in 2009. The feasibility study was a stakeholder-driven process based on over 140 meetings with more than 1,000 individuals. Participants represented a broad cross-section of stakeholders in the region, from federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, private businesses, and community groups. Resoundingly, there was strong support for an inclusive and collaborative approach to sustaining the Greenway into the future and for formal recognition of the Greenway as a National Heritage Area.
- Mountains to Sound Greenway Feasibility Study, 2012
- Mountains to Sound Greenway Feasibility Study Addendum, 2014
On March 12, 2019, President Donald Trump signed legislation for the major public-lands bill, renamed John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, designating the Mountains to Sound Greenway a National Heritage Area.