Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Pushes Again for Failed National Heritage Area Designation

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Pushes Again for Failed National Heritage Area Designation The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is taking another shot at becoming the Managing Entity for 1.5 million acres stretching along I-90 from Seattle past Ellensburg. Aside from lack of federal will and dollars, a large part of the reason the previous attempt to push this through congress failed was the public outcry from Private Property Owners who objected to being mapped into this Heritage Area that would fall under the control of the National Park Service. Property owners believe, rightly so, that there is enough governmental control in this state over their properties, both on the state and federal levels. This gets to the heart of the matter, the word trust. Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights asks do property owners trust the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust? The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is in large part simply an environmental organization that likes to tout itself as a group of trail builders. In spite of the fact that there are numerous and uncountable trails throughout the region, many of them interlocked, it seems there will never be quite enough. They are not simply trail builders, they involve themselves in public education, teaching many children each year the benefits and pleasures of using bio-solids (treated sewer sludge) as a great organic method of living. Check out all the links on their website, and you will see the image of the greenway’s innocence pale. A closer look at this organization reveals why many property owners do not trust this organization. The recent hiring of Jon Hoekstra as the executive director sheds some light on his background, and what we can expect to be the direction the Greenway Trust and their mission will lead. Most recently Mr. Hoekstra was the chief scientist and vice president for science at the World Wildlife Fund, Hoekstra also spent almost 10 years working on strategy and conservation for the Nature Conservancy. The trust works to promote public land acquisitions, though in theory, this is a forbidden use of Heritage Area funds. How would the Greenway Trust reconcile this conflict of interests? The board of the The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is populated with many of the top names in the business of environmental manipulation, promotion, and management. President Kurt Fraese, CEO/President GeoEngineers, Inc.; Immediate Past President Bill Chapman, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition; Eric Artz, EVP, COO, Chief Financial Officer REI; Sally Bagshaw, Councilmember City of Seattle; Dow Constantine, King County Executive; Kitty Craig, Deputy Director, Washington Program The Wilderness Society; Karen Daubert, Executive Director Washington Trails Association; Karl Forsgaard, President, Alpine Lakes Protection Society; Ava Frisinger, Former Mayor City of Issaquah; Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Land Washington State Department of Natural Resources; Bruce Gryniewski, Partner Gallatin Public Affairs; Don Hoch, Director Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission; Ken Konigsmark, Issaquah Alps Trails Club; Janet Knox, Principal Environmental Chemist, Pacific Groundwater Group; Paul Kundtz, Washington State Director, The Trust for Public Land; Arlene Levy, Social Venture Partners; Doug McClelland, Assistant Region Manager Washington State Department of Natural Resources; Gordon McHenry Jr, President & CEO Solid Ground; Thomas O'Keefe, Pacific NW Stewardship Director, American Whitewater; Charles Raines, Director Cascade Checkerboard Project, Sierra Club; Jim Reinhardsen, Principal & Senior Managing Director HEARTLAND LLC; Floyd Rogers Environmental Advocate; Vik Sahney, Divisional Vice President, Strategy REI; Maryanne Tagney, Community at Large Representative; GO AHEAD, google and research these names and see how often any one of these individuals has provided a dissertation on the importance, meaning, and societal benefits of individual property rights. Better yet, google these names and imagine how the designation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area might just benefit these individuals just a little more than it would benefit the average private property owner that has been included in the mapped area for this Heritage Area. Indeed, a close reading of the legislation for this Heritage Area reveals many questionable statements that would need close scrutiny. There remain concerns about the possible direct or indirect effects of such designations on local communities and private property, including regulatory or bureaucratic interference with private properties. Preserving the natural beauty and importance of this region has obviously been paramount to private property owners and it is evident that private property owners have been the key to the success of the areas current coveted conditions and uses. To map private properties into a Heritage Area without the consent of the property owners is an affront to the contributions made by property owners, and to their right to self -determination within the framework of the Washington State Constitution, when the only recourse to being mapped into the heritage area is to be “given” the right to refrain from participating in any plan, project, program, or activity conducted within the Heritage Area; this right would be hard if not nearly impossible, and potentially exhaustively and prohibitively expensive to retain for an individual property owner. As stated by James Madison in his famous 1792 essay, Property: “In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” It is true that in his promotion of the Heritage Area Mr. Reichert and others state the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area has no effect on property rights, but that statement evades the truth by simply mimicking heritage area creating language. That language has been promoted by the National Park Service and is in a cookie cutter fashion used for all heritage areas, therefore it is hardly either innovative or protective of any particular area a NHA would be proposed. CAPR has done extensive research on Heritage Areas and the impact they have where they have been designated. CAPR has also carried out extensive research on the National Park Service, its current goals, agendas, and documents, as well as problems the NPS has faced both fiscally and in their treatment of their neighbors. The fact that thousands of private property owners have been mapped into this 1.5 million acre area without either their permission or say so, alone affects their private properties. If this were designated, where once these property owners had representative government, they now would have an additional layer of government that is unelected and unaccountable. Administrative law will be in charge of creating additional administrative law, with the influence and management of an unelected environmental trust, The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. There is an opt out clause, which is of little consequence when compared to the carrot and stick coercion of the private and federal dollars that will be involved in this area that will be tempting to cash strapped local municipalities where income has already been impaired due to state and federal decision making. Imagine the influence and lack of accountability if instead of our local elected representatives representing our interests, we in these “heritage areas”, have stakeholders deciding what is in our best interest according to their own best interests and agendas, with the power through federal dollars to accomplish those agendas. The private property owner cannot exert an equal level of power. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Representatives Dave Reichert, Adam Smith, and Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray like to portray themselves as tough but impartial representatives. Because of their lack of meaningful and straightforward communication with private property owners, it is not known if they are unaware of the impacts of unrepresented land control, or simply avid vote getters at any cost. This brings to mind a thought from G.K. Chesterson… “Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference which is an elegant name for ignorance.” Please join Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights in the thoughtful contemplation of the reality of the impact to private property owners and their rights, and consider signing our Petition to Congress asking for a denial of the designation of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.

July 12, 2015