Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Update

In 2019, you helped secure a local conservation victory when the Mountains to Sound Greenway was designated a National Heritage Area. The Greenway Trust is now asking for public input on their recently-released draft management plan. Learn more about the plan and how you can help shape the final version.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 03, 2022

The Mountains to Sound Greenway is an ecologically diverse corridor stretching 100 miles from Seattle to Ellensburg. A focal area for Mountaineers adventures, the Greenway’s 1,600 miles of trails are home to many of the places we ski, hike, climb, and bike. Whether taking in stunning views of the Cascade crest, climbing at Exit 38, or hiking to Rattlesnake Ledge, the Greenway’s landscapes and the outdoor opportunities they provide help preserve our region’s unique history and culture.

Due to increased development, booming recreational use, and worsening impacts of the climate crisis, there is a pressing need for the Greenway’s land managers and stakeholders to better collaborate on efforts to steward the landscape, educate the public, and promote local economic growth. Designating it as a National Heritage Area was chosen as the best way to accomplish these long-term goals while also considering the needs of the Greenway's diverse communities.

A Local Conservation Victory

Our community has championed conservation in the Greenway for years - advocating time and again to protect these special places and engaging in trailwork and other stewardship efforts. Thanks to letters and petitions from recreationists like you, Washington’s congressional delegation stepped up to help secure designation of the Greenway as a National Heritage Area (NHA) in the 2019 federal public lands package.

As the Northwest’s first National Heritage Area, the Greenway’s 1.5 million acres - encompassing cities, towns, farms, rivers, wilderness, and wildlife - will benefit from more collaborative management. The designation’s strong bipartisan support demonstrates a commitment from businesses, governments, nonprofits, and individuals to honor its cultural heritage and preserve its resources in the face of several challenges.

What is a National Heritage Area?

A national heritage area is a large area designated by Congress as a place where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Though they are a partnership with the National Park Service, heritage areas are community-led. This designation provides a framework for residents, government agencies, nonprofits, and private partners to collaboratively plan and implement projects to preserve a landscape without affecting private property rights or tribal sovereignty.

National Heritage Area designations bring benefits beyond conservation and recreation, but we’re particularly excited that it will drive improvements to trails and other recreation amenities, and restore the Greenway’s natural resources. To make the most of these new opportunities, the recreation community needs to be active participants in helping to shape how the new heritage area will be managed. The process to draft the Greenway’s management plan is that step.

Planning Process

While the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (Greenway Trust) is leading the NHA process, The Mountaineers and other partners worked closely with the Greenway Trust to develop a draft management plan - a framework for preserving and stewarding the Greenway in an integrated and cooperative way. After two years of collaborative planning that gathered input from hundreds of stakeholders, the Greenway Trust invites your feedback on the draft management plan for the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.

You can read an executive summary here and the full plan here.

Highway10_Credit_MountainstoSoundGreenwayTrust.JPG

image of the Greenway along U.S. Route 10. Photo by Mountains to SounD Greenway Trust.

What’s in the Draft Plan?

The goals of the Greenway NHA management plan are to:

  • Amplify the region’s rich history and natural heritage
  • Uplift the region’s tribal heritage
  • Promote pride of place and connections to nature
  • Protect and steward natural, cultural, and historic resources
  • Grow funding opportunities
  • Promote responsible recreation activities and heritage-based tourism

The plan outlines strategies and approaches to answer two guiding questions: What do the Greenway Trust and others plan to do to enhance and interpret the Greenway’s resources, and which partners are ready to collaborate on that important work?

The plan highlights five themes to guide the Greenway’s management. They include the first peoples of these lands, landscape, corridors of wildlife migration, relationships, and resilience. The plan also works to connect these five themes with four plan narratives: human origins and arrivals, salmon, Pacific Northwest Forests, and Snoqualmie Pass. By acknowledging that humans have shaped this place since time immemorial and by lifting up tribal perspectives, NHA partners strive to tell a more complete story of the historic and cultural value of the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

To achieve its goals, the management plan recommends the following key strategies: land conservation, improving ecological health, responsible recreation, historic preservation, infrastructure design and retrofit, and local land-use planning. The Mountaineers is eager to continue to engage in this process and support the implementation of these strategies moving forward.

For more detail on the draft management plan, you can find the executive summary, as well as the full version, here.

Give feedback

A one-month comment period on the draft management plan is now underway. In order to make this plan stronger, the Greenway Trust is encouraging the public to learn more and share their thoughts. A public survey is open now through June 20, and there will also be two virtual open houses on June 14 and June 17 to collect additional input. You can find more information on the plan and all of these engagement opportunities here.

Mountaineers have strong connections to the Greenway landscape. Celebrate the Greenway by joining our staff in submitting feedback to help shape the final National Heritage Area management plan. Together we can enhance the Mountains to Sound Greenway’s recreational opportunities for future generations.

The comment period is now closed, but click here to see the comments that the Mountaineers submitted

Lead photo of the Mountains to Sound Greenway from the Keechelus Ridge area. Photo by Carl Marrs.