Beginning with coastal canoe cultures and continuing to superferries and superfreighters, Western Washington’s community and commerce has grown on our saltwater shores. The story of our maritime heritage is a key to understanding ourselves as a region. It is also a story of national importance, reflecting a unique way of life in a place like no other.
A variety of groups, from heritage societies to ports to Native American tribes and intertribal organizations, have worked diligently to protect and celebrate our living maritime heritage. However, many of those groups have also struggled to maintain volunteer support, raise funds, and build sustainable organizations. Individual groups believe that telling a bigger story—one that brings together old and new, the Pacific and Puget Sound, large craft and small—will engage more of the public and better share the history, drama and excitement of our maritime stories. Accordingly, Washington’s maritime heritage community has banded together and for the past several years have been working to achieve a new designation for Washington’s maritime resources as a National Heritage Area, stretching along Washington’s saltwater coastline from Grays Harbor County to the Canadian border.
In February 2019, this long fight for designation achieved a stunning victory when the Congress passed the Natural Resources Management Act, the largest public lands bill in over a decade, which included the official designation of the Washington National Maritime Heritage Area. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is named as the local coordinating entity for the program and we are excited to work with our partners to capitalize on the new designation!
Check out the resources below for more information!