Over the past six months, the Maritime Washington planning team has been hard at work charting the course ahead for this new National Heritage Area. Using input gathered from public workshops, focus groups, committees, surveys, individual interviews, and more, we’ve wrestled with how the heritage area can best share our state’s unique saltwater stories—and support our communities and Tribes in maintaining and celebrating their maritime cultures.

How can we increase collaboration between the diverse individuals and organizations that make Washington’s maritime heritage so unique? How can we help connect people with our state’s shorelines and the cultures along them? How can we raise visibility of existing organizations, programs, and resources? How can we support living and vibrant maritime trades and industries? How can we encourage both accessibility and conservation in tandem? 

From these fruitful conversations, we envisioned a future in which:

Maritime partners are stronger through increased organizational sustainability, more funding opportunities, stronger cross-sector and cross-regional relationships, more sharing of ideas and solutions, and increased support for leaders and practitioners.

More people and communities are reflected in maritime stories and culture, both past and present.

Residents and visitors alike are more connected to Washington’s saltwater shores and waterways through physical access and a sense of place/identity.

To achieve this vision, we set a mission for Maritime Washington:

Through commitment to our saltwater shores and waterways, the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area creates and sustains a network connecting people with our state’s maritime stories, experiences, sites, and cultures.

And we outlined five goals, which will determine exactly what Maritime Washington will do:

Build a network of cross-sector partners dedicated to advancing and honoring Washington’s maritime cultures

Provide support and resources for organizations, communities, and Tribes working to enhance and share maritime heritage

Share diverse stories and increase visibility of Washington’s maritime heritage, past and present

Encourage sustainable experiences of maritime heritage for residents and visitors alike

Preserve our region’s unique maritime identity, resources, and lifeways

As we use these goals to create a work plan, we see the Maritime Washington NHA offering three main areas of service: partner support, external messaging, and advocacy.

Now, we’re using this guidance to craft a full management plan for the heritage area. This plan will include a framework for how we’ll share our maritime stories, including interpretive strategies and key sites along our shores. It will also include management and partnership structures, policies, and financial plans to ensure the heritage area is sustainable, accountable, and transparent in its operations. The plan will include communications strategies and branding for the Maritime Washington NHA. And it will outline the specific actions needed to achieve the ambitious vision, mission, and goals set by our planning team. Just think of it as our navigational plan for the seas ahead.

Over the next few months, the team will be drafting this plan and testing their ideas with key stakeholders from throughout the region. Then, early next year, we’ll bring the plan to you for your review and input. We can’t wait to share the full vision, from bow to stern, with you. Until then, thank you for coming along on this journey with us—full speed ahead!