***UPDATE W/PHOTOS*** Congressmen to visit Tacoma for proposed Maritime Heritage Area announcement

Representatives of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) will be in Tacoma next week to promote...

Representatives of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) will be in Tacoma next week to promote proposed legislation to create a National Maritime Heritage Area in the State of Washington.

The National Heritage Area Program began in the 1980s as a way to boost heritage tourism while supporting maritime trades and businesses. There are nearly 50 heritage areas nationwide, and most are located in the eastern United States.

Washington State Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Allyson Brooks was at Tacoma City Hall in 2009 to share plans to pursue the legislation. At the time, Brooks noted the special designation is made by Congress, but program administration — including the distribution of federal grants to groups and organizations that promote Washington State’s maritime history — would be managed on the local level.

DAHP contracted with Parametrix and Berk & Associates to compile a feasibility study, which was completed in March 2010, and Tacoma-based Artifacts Consulting to compile a Maritime Resource Survey, which was completed in June 2011.

On Mon., June 30, at 10 a.m., Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Congressman Denny Heck (D-Vancouver) are scheduled to join DAHP officials at the Foss Waterway Seaport, located at 705 Dock St., to announce their plans to introduce legislation to create the special designation.

More information is available online here.


***UPDATE | Mon., June 30, 2014 @ 11:35 a.m. — Here are a few photographs from the event this morning. The Tacoma Daily Index will have a feature article on the announcement more information shortly.

***UPDATE | Mon., June 30, 2014 @ 12:15 p.m — Here is the press release from Congressman Derek Kilmer:

Bill to Create the First National Heritage Site on the West Coast

Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Denny Heck (WA-10) joined local officials to announce a bill to create the first national heritage site on the West Coast. Their legislation would establish a National Maritime Heritage Area in Washington state – the only one in the country focused on maritime history. Following the announcement the group also toured the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Congress has designated 49 areas across the country as National Heritage Areas to promote local economic growth and preserve sites and landmarks with cultural and historical significance. After being approved by Congress each area is managed by local officials, with no new regulatory authority over management or preservation given to the National Park Service.

“From fishermen to shipbuilders, the maritime economy has been central to our region for generations,” said Kilmer. “We take pride in how rich this history is. Traveling along our coast you’ll find unique stories about our tribal heritage, fishing economy, and even boundary disputes. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on our maritime traditions in the hopes of reminding future generations how important our ties to the water are, while bringing in visitors from across the nation that will support tourism businesses. This bill seeks to maintain these national treasures through local control so they don’t fade away and would not have happened without a grassroots campaign to secure a heritage designation. I look forward to continuing to work with local communities to create this area.”

“Not only will the establishment of a maritime heritage area encourage people to learn about this special place, but to also visit and experience its brilliance in person,” said Heck. “This designation will also preserve the area for many generations to enjoy our region well into the future.”

Local stakeholders made a push for this designation to draw in visitors from around the country to learn more about the state’s maritime legacy. According to the Washington Tourism Alliance the industry in Washington state supported nearly 155,000 jobs and generated more than $1 billion in revenues in 2013.

The National Heritage Area gives Washington state greater access to preservation resources and would consist of lighthouses, vessels, and other landmarks located within one-quarter mile of the shoreline in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, San Juan, Island, King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam, and Grays Harbor counties. The National Park Service would also create a new map to provide details on the entire area.

The announcement was held at the Foss Waterway Seaport with Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Washington State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks, Port of Tacoma Commissioner Clare Petrich, and tribal and labor leaders. The Foss Waterway Seaport is a century-old warehouse for wheat brought in by rail and then shipped out to sea. Today, it offers exhibits and programs dedicated to Tacoma’s maritime tradition.

Representatives Heck and Kilmer co-founded the Congressional Puget Sound Caucus last year to reflect their commitment to preserving the Puget Sound. The caucus is the only Congressional working group devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts, and builds on the legacy left by former Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime advocate for the health of the Puget Sound.

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