Washington, DC – This evening, Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) spoke on the House floor in support of their legislation, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act (H.R. 1791). Shortly after, the House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.
“In my home state of Washington, we know well how spectacular the Mountains to Sound Greenway is and why this area is so deserving of this National Heritage Area designation,” said Rep. Reichert. “Today’s vote confirms this area is special to people from all across the country and globe who come to Washington State eager to experience its lush forests and rugged mountains. After years of working on this designation with my colleague, Representative Smith, I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly pass the House. Now, I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation, so that the Mountains to Sound Greenway receives the full recognition it deserves.”
“The passage of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, the first such designation in the Pacific Northwest, reflects the sustainable relationship between Washington state residents and nature in the Puget Sound Region,” Rep. Smith said. “The Mountains to Sound Greenway will help preserve and promote the area’s scenery, resources and history for future generations. I thank Congressman Reichert for his stalwart leadership, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for their tireless advocacy, and the engaged community members that made it possible for us to join together in preserving this natural treasure.”
This legislation was first introduced by Representatives Reichert and Smith in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1785, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act. In November of 2014, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill, but the full House never considered it. After receiving feedback over the past four years, Reps. Reichert and Smith reintroduced an improved and strengthened bill in March of 2017. This new bill (H.R. 1791) includes important protections for individual rights, private property owners, and tribal communities. It has the support of over 6,000 individuals and groups from government agencies and officials, businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservation and heritage organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Outdoor Alliance. In June, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill.
"The Greenway is a model for working cooperatively to conserve the environment while supporting a strong economy,” said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “We’re ecstatic that Congressman Reichert and Congressman Smith have succeeded in ushering this bipartisan bill to passage in the House. With Senators Cantwell and Murray as champions in the Senate, our region will soon reap the benefits of this innovative designation."
National Heritage Areas are congressionally designated partnerships between the National Park Service, states, and local communities through which the Park Service supports local and state efforts to preserve natural resources and promote tourism. National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System. No federal regulations are imposed, and no private land is affected or acquired. Rep. Reichert’s legislation does not force private property owners to participate in any activity or provide public access on their land; it does not affect land use planning; and it does not alter, modify or extinguish treaty rights, water rights, or limit the authority of the state to manage fish and wildlife, including hunting and fishing regulations.
Heritage Area designations are eligible for federal grants and this designation can help draw financial contributions from state, local, and private sources. On average, each Heritage Area generates about $263 million in economic activity and supports about 3,000 jobs, primarily through tourism and visitor spending.