Democratic News

Jul 13 2016

Priorities for the State of Washington Advance to Next Step in Legislative Process

Bills would honor former Washington Sen. Dan Evans; establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area; and establish the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area

Watch Sen. Cantwell’s opening statement.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) voted to advance three bills important to the state of Washington. These bills are ready for consideration by the full Senate.

"Outdoor recreation is one of the most spectacular parts of Washington state, and these bills continue to push forward on the outdoor recreation industry that is a major economic developer in our state," Sen. Cantwell said.

Sen. Cantwell introduced the first bill with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)—a bill to rename the Olympic Wilderness within Olympic National Park as the “Daniel J. Evans Wilderness,” in honor of former Washington Governor and Senator Dan Evans. Evans served the state of Washington for more than 50 years, including service as a state legislator, governor and U.S. Senator. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Evans was the lead sponsor of the Washington Park Wilderness Act of 1988 which designated over 1.5 million acres of wilderness areas in Olympic, North Cascades and Mount Rainier National Parks.

The bill proposed by Sens. Cantwell and Murray would rename the Olympic Wilderness as “the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness,” without affecting either the name of Olympic National Park or the management of the designated wilderness.

The remaining Washington delegation of 1988 penned a letter in support of this effort: “[Evans’] devotion to the Washington landscape is a gift to all Washingtonians. His legacy of protection of these lands is great testament to his commitment to public service. … We can think of no more appropriate tribute than to rename the Olympic Park Wilderness area in honor of Daniel J. Evans.”

Two other bills advanced today create national heritage areas within the state of Washington. Heritage areas provide a community-driven approach to environmental stewardship, heritage preservation, promotion of volunteerism and economic development.

Specifically, the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area bill will help tell the story of the culturally diverse maritime heritage within the state of Washington. This bill was developed with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and includes most of the coastal shoreline of the state.

Kristen Brengel of the National Parks Conservation Association said of the bill: “This legislation would highlight the history, culture and places important to the people who have inhabited Washington state’s saltwater coastline. It will help tell their stories, including those of Native Americans as well as modern European settlement, draw tourists, and focus attention and support for protecting historic places and structures. Thank you to Sen. Cantwell for protecting our national heritage.”

Lastly, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area bill would conserve and promote the scenic beauty of the greenway, better educating the public on the region’s deep heritage and numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. The greenway includes lands in Kittitas and King Counties, stretching from the Seattle waterfront to Ellensburg.

“Today’s mark-up of S. 1690 highlights the power of collaboration and bipartisan efforts,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “It shows thousands of supporters that their voices were heard in Congress. We are grateful to Sen. Cantwell for her continued leadership to move this through the Senate. We look forward to working with Sens. Cantwell and Murray and Congressmen Reichert and Smith to see the Mountains to Sound Greenway designated as a National Heritage Area during this Congress.”