First of its Kind: Maritime Heritage Area

When Alexandra Gradwohl and others at the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation received word that the long campaign for a Maritime Washington National Heritage Area had been granted by the US Congress, they were elated, if not a bit surprised. You see, this was the first designation of a new National Heritage Area in more than a decade.

The 10 year+ process was rewarded with the designation as the first, and to date, only heritage area dedicated solely to Maritime Heritage. So, it’s a BIG deal.

The designation by Congress encompasses 3,000 miles of Washington State’s saltwater coastline – from Grays Harbor
County to the Canadian border. Included in the area are 18 federally recognized tribes, 13 counties, 32 incorporated cities and 30 port districts, as well as innumerable harbors, inlets, peninsulas, island shores and parks.

Throughout 2021, the Washington Trust will work with communities to develop an operational plan for the newly established Heritage Area. According to Gradwohl, “Our planning efforts and Steering Committee are bringing together various organizations and people within this area and through this, we’re creating a region-wide network with
the common thread of water. We are learning exponentially from each other.”

One steering committee member is Monique Valenzuela, Executive Director of the Youth Marine Foundation, home of the Tacoma Sea Scout Base. Founded in 1923, the Sea Scouts have continuously implemented programs so local youth can experience the water. “There is so much collaboration among this Steering Committee because we share a love of the water that is all around us,” said Valenzuela.

Some of the youth in the Sea Scouts program are working on board historic Sea Scout Ship #110, which just celebrated its 90th birthday, to earn their Quartermaster Award. Other youth are attending outings to learn more about the abundant water that surrounds them in the South Puget Sound, now a Maritime Heritage Area.

To access a new interactive on-line map where you can provide feedback on what sites you value in the new Maritime Heritage Area, visit The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is a statewide, tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to safeguard Washington’s historic places.

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