February 14, 2012
Heritage designation fits for greenway
It seems silly that different public land-use agencies cannot work together, but the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is trying to help resolve that problem.
Today, there are six major agencies that manage public lands with the 1.5 million acres known as the greenway. These include the U.S. Forest Service, City of Seattle Watershed, state Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and King County.
The agencies should be able to intermingle land management. The benefit focuses on enforcement and environmental decisions. For example, one agency employee may not have the authority to stop hunters or timber cutting on public land. It also opens the doors to pilot projects that might be used elsewhere in the country.
The greenway trust is taking the suggestion of the U.S. Forest Service seriously and has begun the move of lands in the greenway to have a National Heritage Area designation. This would allow the jurisdictional management of 900,000 acres of public lands and 100,000 acres of privately conserved lands. The other half-million acres are already in use — your home and workplace — and would not be affected.
The national heritage designation has no federal price tag — it only opens a window of opportunity. And the designation does not intrude on property rights, not adding new regulatory authority or other management restrictions over private lands.
It does not require any property owner to provide public access to their land and it does not affect water rights or fishing and hunting regulations.
The greenway trust has reached out to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert for help in getting the designation. It couldn’t be better timing. Reichert is also making a push to get legislation passed in support of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. While the Alpine Lakes are not within the greenway boundaries, Reichert’s passion for protected public lands should extend to both.