Maritime Washington National Heritage Area

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 John Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, the largest public lands bill in over a decade, which included the official designation of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area (MW-NHA). 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!

Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Funding Update

Good news on the funding front for the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area (MW-NHA)!

In December, Congress passed a budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which includes increased funding to National Heritage Areas. This will result in an anticipated $150,000 to support the management plan process for our newly designated NHA.

Also in December, Governor Inslee released his proposed 2020 state supplemental budget, which likewise included $150,000 to support development of the MW-NHA management plan through the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation. If the Governor’s proposal makes it through the legislature, this will be the required local match for the NHA’s federal funding. Stay tuned for how you can help!

Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Celebration

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation was proud to join the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, Congressman Derek Kilmer, and representatives from the offices of Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and Congressman Denny Heck at Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma on August 29 for a celebration of the new MW-NHA. As the designated local coordinating entity for the new National Heritage Area, we look forward to working with partners across Washington’s saltwater coastlines to tell the unique story of our state’s maritime heritage. Check out a few photos from the event!

See the photos

Stay in the loop!

As the local coordinating entity, the Washington Trust is looking forward to putting together the management plan for the newly designated National Heritage Area. Over the next few years, we will be working with a variety of stakeholders to develop that plan to create a vibrant heritage area. Following approval of this plan by the NPS, we will be off and running, highlighting the stories, resources and individuals that make our state’s maritime heritage so compelling. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on Maritime Washington National Heritage Area (MW-NHA) developments, please join our email list!

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Feasibility Study

National Heritage Area designation follows a two-step process: completion of a feasibility study (rather than an application) and introduction of authorizing legislation in the U.S. Congress. Broadly, these evaluation criteria relate to the following questions:

  • Does the landscape has an assemblage of historic, cultural, and natural resources that, when linked together, tell a nationally important story?
  • Do outstanding opportunities exist for improving the quality of the resource assemblage through conservation, recreation, and education?
  • Are there ongoing traditions, customs, and lifeways associated with a nationally important story?
  • Does an organization exist that has the financial and organizational capacity to coordinate heritage area activities?
  • Is there public support for NHA designation and the proposed coordinating entity, and are potential partners interested in working with the proposed coordinating entity on heritage area activities?

This study was the culmination of a four-year grassroots movement, an extensive community outreach process, and a rigorous assessment of Washington State’s unique maritime heritage and its contribution to our shared national story. The nation’s west coast is a place to experience two vital components of the American character: our pioneering spirit and restless innovation. The proposed National Heritage Area demonstrates these uniquely American qualities through its stories of exploration, intrepid communities, and dynamic industries. The Maritime Washington National Heritage Area will make a strong contribution to the growing collection of National Heritage Areas throughout the country, offering opportunities for learning unavailable anywhere else.

Full Feasibility Study

Want a shorter peek at the content of the feasibility study? Check out the overview document or the themes and sub-themes exerpt from the full document.