News & Events

Mapping the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area: You’re Invited to Participate

Author: Lilly Schneider | 12/13/21

Did you know that Jefferson County’s shoreline is now part of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area (MW-NHA)?

A gap between trees shows a wide expanse of vividly blue water.

View of Hood Canal from one of the Land Trust’s protected properties.

Established by a public lands bill passed by the United States Congress in 2019, the MW-NHA is the first and, so far, the only National Heritage Area focused on maritime heritage. The nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (WTHP) is currently designing a management plan for the MW-NHA — and they’re inviting you to participate.

Throughout 2021, WTHP has worked with local organizations and residents to develop a management plan that will determine what the heritage area will look like and how it can benefit and honor coastal communities. Until the end of December, you can get involved in this public process by identifying the maritime areas that mean the most to you along our saltwater shorelines using WTHP’s Maritime Mapper tool.

“This National Heritage Area is relevant to the Land Trust because it includes the local shorelines and shoreline areas that we and other conservation partners work hard to protect,” explains Erik Kingfisher, Jefferson Land Trust’s Stewardship Director. “When thinking about what this management plan might look like, it’s important to ensure that it includes the natural areas that make this place extraordinary.”

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a landscape of national significance. Spanning more than 3,000 miles of Washington’s saltwater shoreline from Grays Harbor County to the Canadian border, the MW-NHA includes 18 federally recognized tribes, 13 counties, 32 incorporated cities, and 30 port districts, in addition to inlets, harbors, peninsulas, island shoreline, and parks.

With the MW-NHA still in the planning stages, Erik notes that there’s an important opportunity here to make sure that important natural areas are included in the inventory of what makes this heritage area so special.

“Honoring maritime heritage certainly includes recognizing industrial and colonial history, and there are a lot of people working on that, but it shouldn’t go overlooked that this place existed for thousands of years before industrial and colonial development,” says Erik.

“The ancient undeveloped shorelines and marine waters, the shellfish gathering areas, and the stewardship of these lands and waters by indigenous peoples for thousands of years — that’s the real long-term heritage of this place. I’d love to see the most scenic and ecologically important undeveloped shorelines in the entire NHA be recognized in this process.”

Using the Maritime Mapper tool, you can identify resources and sites related to our saltwater shorelines, and even add photos, historical details, and personal stories. The Maritime Mapper will remain open for submissions until midnight on December 31st.

“The WTHP has been wonderful to work with and they’re doing a great job of arranging this process,” says Erik. “I’m really excited to see how the MW-NHA evolves going forward.”