New National Heritage Area Benefits the Snoqualmie Valley

The Snoqualmie Valley is now part of a brand-new National Heritage Area!

Congress has just created the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, with the Snoqualmie Valley at its heart, as part of a nearly decade-long community-led campaign to bring national recognition to this region.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway encompasses a dynamic 1.5-million-acre landscape that stretches from Ellensburg to Seattle. It connects urban centers, vast forests, meadow-strewn mountain peaks, small farms and rural communities. Abundant trails, parks and public lands make the Greenway a place everyone can experience.

“NHA designation is an opportunity for communities of the Greenway to preserve what is most important amid the ongoing growth and development in our region,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “The Greenway’s complex history and cultural diversity tell important stories that current and future generations can learn from and embrace together.”

The Greenway NHA will be coordinated by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, a local nonprofit with nearly 30 years of experience supporting community projects, including launching and now facilitating the Savor Snoqualmie Valley initiative.

As this region undergoes massive growth, the designation provides new opportunities in the Snoqualmie Valley to more effectively conserve natural resources, protect cultural heritage, and contribute to the economic vitality of the region. Specifically, it will help:

  • Amplify the region’s rich history and natural heritage on a national stage
  • Foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic
  • Encourage ecological and recreational restoration across multiple jurisdictions and watersheds
  • Grow funding opportunities through private and public partnerships
  • Promote regional tourism and attract new economic opportunities

NHA designation is a creative, non-regulatory approach to conservation that is rooted in cooperation among tribal, federal, state, county, and municipal agencies, and local residents.

 

 

Designation as a National Heritage Area requires an act of Congress.  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.

This spirit of bipartisan collaboration is at the heart of what makes the Mountains to Sound Greenway so special. For nearly 30 years stakeholders from across this region have come together, put aside their differences, and pitched in to support their communities and open spaces. Greenway NHA designation has 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.

 

About National Heritage Areas

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, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and Washington State’s new Maritime National Heritage Area. National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.

NHAs do not increase federal regulation over lands. Instead, the designation provides a framework for local citizens to preserve, share and promote their heritage, with full local control. Designation will not affect water, hunting, fishing or tribal treaty rights.

 

About Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

The Mountains to Sound Greenway is the 1.5-million-acre landscape connecting Puget Sound and central Washington. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust leads and inspires action to conserve and enhance the Greenway, ensuring a long-term balance between people and nature. Founded in 1991, the Greenway Trust works to promote public land acquisitions, connect a continuous regional trail system, preserve rural lifestyles, teach people of all ages about forests and wildlife, and mobilize thousands of volunteers to care for the landscape.