Encouraging United States Congress to give official recognition to Mountains to Sound Greenway
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee today sent to the full County Council with a “do-pass” recommendation a motion urging the United States Congress to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area.
“I spent much of my youth hiking in the Mountains to Sound Greenway with my brother and mom,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion. “It is truly one of the jewels of the Northwest. Congress should ensure its protection by designating the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area.”
“I have worked throughout my career to help secure conservation lands along the Mountains to Sound Greenway,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee and a member of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Advisory Council.” These lands are an important part of preserving what is beautiful, green, and unique about our region. The greenway deserves the distinction of being designated a National Heritage Area.”
The Mountain to Sound Greenway is a national scenic byway that stretches over 100 miles along I-90 from the waterfront in Seattle all the way to Central Washington. It includes forests, farms, historic sites, lakes, campgrounds, rivers, trails, wildlife habitat and local communities. The Greenway is the result of a public-private coalition that has preserved over 750,000 acres of land for education, recreation, and environmental stewardship.
In 1991, the non-profit Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust was formed, and is currently governed by a 60-member board of directors representing a diversity of conservation, development, business, and local, state, and federal interests.
The motion urges the U.S. Congress to recognize the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as landscapes wherein historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects can be more easily supported through public-private partnerships.
An important feature of a National Heritage Area designation is that while it strengthens conservation efforts, the designation does not affect private property rights, legislate new lands, nor add land-use regulations or more regulatory authority for lands within the designated area.
There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States, but designating the Mountains to Sound Greenway would make it the first in Washington State. It already holds the distinction of being designated the country’s first National Scenic Byway.
The motion has been sent to the full County Council for final consideration. It is scheduled for action at the Council’s March 19 meeting.