Mountains to Sound Greenway Legislation Introduced (WA)
By: Thomas O'Keefe
Bipartisan legislation was introduced this past week to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area. Senate legislation was introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and House legislation was introduced by Congressmen Dave Reichert and Adam Smith.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway includes rivers in the Snoqualmie, Cedar, and Yakima River watersheds and some great close-to-home whitewater for whitewater paddlers living in the Puget Sound Region and along the I-90 corridor including the Middle-Middle, Fall In The Wall, Ernie’s Gorge, Cedar River Slalom Course, Club Stretch, Powerhouse, Cooper, Cle Elum, and several others. Many paddlers call the region home because of the easy access to these whitewater resources. Creation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area will further enhance our goals of conserving these resources for future generations and enhancing public access and overall quality of the recreational experience along rivers.
Greenway designation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by over 5,000 businesses, governments, nonprofits and individuals. Supporters include Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Kittitas County Commissioners, Microsoft, Expedia, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, the Nature Conservancy, and American Whitewater, among many more.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert, who are strong champions in caring for this unique heritage and pushing for the creation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area. Both have beens strong champions for rivers leading successful efforts to designate an extension of the White Salmon Wild and Scenic River and the designation of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Wild and Scenic Rivers respectively.
To move the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area legislation through Congress, it is important that our Congressional champions hear from local residents about how much they value this region and its high quality of life. Sign the petition or send a support letter. Or voice support online with #YesGreenwayNHA.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway encompasses 1.5 million acres of public and private land from Seattle to Central Washington. The scenic beauty of the Greenway is the backdrop for the daily lives of millions of residents. Alpine peaks, wilderness lakes, wild free-flowing rivers, and expansive forests connect by road, water trails, and trail to rural communities and downtown high rises.
This legislation will promote local economic growth from tourism and outdoor recreation, so it attracts the support of business leaders and community members alike. As a non-regulatory framework, designation will not affect private property rights or mandate federal oversight of public land.
Legislation to create the Greenway National Heritage Area was originally introduced last Congress. With the tireless efforts of champions Senator Cantwell and Congressman Reichert, the legislation passed out of committees in both chambers, but did not receive a final vote from Congress before the end of the year.
A National Heritage Area is a large, lived-in area designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a landscape of national distinction. This designation provides a flexible strategy to encourage residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to collaboratively plan and implement projects to preserve a landscape, without affecting private property rights.
Reintroduction also comes on the heels of another recent success: in May over 3,000 local hikers, bikers, climbers, and boaters voiced their support for Greenway National Heritage Area designation, thanks to the Outdoor Alliance.