MARITIME HERITAGE AREA GAINS SUPPORT
Oct 06, 2009
From the AKCHO Newsletter: Over the summer, the Metropolitan King County Council adopted a motion to support the designation of most of Washington’s saltwater coastline, including Puget Sound and extending through the Lake Washington Ship Canal to Lake Union, as a National Maritime Heritage Area.
“This designation celebrates Washington’s working waterfronts and maritime history,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, sponsor of the motion. “The impact of these areas on our culture, history, and economy deserve to be recognized through this national designation.”There are 49 other National Heritage Areas throughout the United States, but this state-led effort to have Congress accord National Maritime Heritage Area recognition to the aforementioned Washington waterways would be the first such designation on the west coast.
“I am delighted that King County is supporting this important and unique designation,” said Allyson Brooks, the Director/State Historic Preservation Officer for the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). “The County’s maritime history deserves to be recognized at a national level.”DAHP has been conducting a feasibility study throughout the potentially affected areas of the state to determine whether there is sufficient local support to maintain a National Heritage Area. Here in King County, the municipalities of Seattle and Des Moines, both with working waterfronts, also have been supportive, Brooks said. Unlike a National Park, the National Maritime Heritage Area would be managed by a non-profit organization. It would be governed by a steering committee comprised of local maritime stakeholders and with input from tribes, local governments, ports, and other agencies. Inclusion within a National Heritage Area has no regulatory effect on land use or other property rights. But it does provide a mechanism for local stakeholders to coordinate and share resources, develop a regional identity to improve tourism, develop interpretive areas to enhance knowledge of the area, and provide grants for local heritage projects. Limited federal funds also may be available to support activities in the area. The federal designation would be an economic development tool, promoting tourism and supporting the region’s working waterfronts. It also would bolster the efforts of heritage organizations to preserve the area’s maritime history and protect this natural resource.
“Our waterfront is what allowed settlers to colonize Seattle and King County and has been our economic engine ever since,” said King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, whose district borders Lake Union, Elliott Bay, and Puget Sound. “Beyond that, the character and heritage of our waterfront represents so much of what makes living and visiting our region so special and unique.”