Earlier this month, the Management Plan for the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area was approved by the Secretary of the Interior. This approval represents the culmination of over a decade of hard work and significant collaboration between hundreds of individuals, organizations, governments, and Tribes along our state’s saltwater shoreline. Maritime Washington’s designation in 2019 marked a landmark recognition of the significance of our state’s maritime heritage. It underscored what Washingtonians have long known and taken pride in: our saltwater shores are some of the most unique, culturally important places in the country. The approval of the Management Plan paves the path forward for us all to celebrate, protect, and share this special place.

Management Plan: charting the course ahead

The Management Plan outlines the goals, strategies, policies, and plans for the future of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area. It is the “navigation plan” for the program—describing how the heritage area will support our communities in celebrating, maintaining, and sharing their maritime stories and resources. This plan will serve as a useful and living document to guide staff, leadership, and partners in working together to launch this new National Heritage Area.

Convener, storyteller, advocate

With its approval, the new heritage area can officially set sail. The Maritime Washington National Heritage Area will be a non-regulatory, regionwide partnership program that strengthens, shares, and connects our state’s maritime communities and resources. We know that the peoples and organizations along Washington’s saltwater shorelines can have limited opportunity to collaborate and celebrate their vibrant water-based cultures—often leaving Washington’s maritime heritage under-appreciated. That’s why Maritime Washington will partner with diverse, cross-sector organizations throughout the region to strengthen ties within the maritime community, protect our resources, and share more stories with residents and visitors alike.

Image: Shi Shi beach on the rugged Olympic Coast. Photo by William Teed.

A team effort

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, which facilitates Maritime Washington in partnership with the National Park Service, offers our sincere thanks to all the many individuals—too many to list here!—who contributed to this plan. We would particularly like to thank members of the Management Plan Steering Committee as well as the Tribal, Business, Interpretation, Implementation, and Marketing Working Groups, all of whom contributed significant time, effort, and expertise to the crafting of this vision. We would also like to thank our 40 fantastic Anchor Organizations for their help in engaging their communities throughout the planning process.

Most importantly, we would like to thank the hundreds of individuals who contributed their time, energy, and expertise to the creation of this plan through meetings, written comments, focus groups, virtual reviews, and surveys. This has truly been an “all hands on deck” scenario, and we’re exceptionally grateful to Washington State’s incredible maritime community.

What’s next

So, what do you have to look forward to with the launch of Maritime Washington? Over the next year, you’ll see the official launch of Maritime Washington programs, a formal partner network, and new platforms for storytelling.

For the many communities, organizations, and Tribes working in the maritime heritage sector, this means more ways to connect: with your peers doing similar work, with funding opportunities and technical assistance, with new regional and national audiences, and with allies to help advocate for your mission.

For all those who live, work, and play along our saltwater shores, we’ll be here to help you get to know this region even better by sharing the best places to experience our rich maritime heritage and introducing you to new stories and voices from our saltwater shores. If you’re ready to dip your toe into the world of Maritime Washington, follow us on Facebook or Instagram to start learning and experiencing more.  

A young girl sits in a canoe holding a paddle
Image: Swinomish paddler Alexis Bob pulls canoe at Stommish Festival on the Lummi Reservation in 2009. Photo by Kristy Williams, courtesy of the Swinomish Tribal Archives.

Featured image at top: Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island. Photo by Jason Hummel Photography, courtesy of State of Washington Tourism.