Aberdeen - The Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, which owns and operates the Lady Washington, the Official Ship of the State of Washington, is asking the public to attend one of seven workshops on a proposed Maritime National Heritage Area. The area, if designated by Congress, would cover Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and most of the state's Pacific coast. Workshops are scheduled in Aberdeen, Anacortes, Bellingham, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Tacoma, and Seattle.
A National Heritage Area is a federal designation that recognizes the culturally and historically significant resources in a region and that region's role in the nation's history. Today, there are over 40 National Heritage Areas across the country, none of which are on the West Coast. The designation supports local citizens in preserving, sharing, and promoting the region's heritage, and does not increase federal regulation. A Maritime National Heritage Area in Washington State would focus on the region's maritime history, beginning with native peoples through the present day.
"We believe it's vital for people to express their views on this idea," said Capt. Les Bolton, GHHSA's executive director. "As well as honoring our maritime culture, the heritage area is an exciting economic development opportunity, which could be especially helpful in smaller rural communities."
Designation of a National Heritage Area could advance the following goals:
. Increase heritage tourism for coastal and Puget Sound communities
. Provide new funding for community-based museums and heritage groups
. Support working waterfronts and our region's maritime industry
. Raise awareness of marine resources and the health of resource-based industries
The workshops are scheduled for these dates and times: May 27: 4:30 p.m., Bremerton, Gateway Community Center; May 28: 5:30 p.m., Bellingham, Whatcom Museum of History and Art; June 1, 4:30 p.m., Port Townsend, Pope Marine Park Building; June 2, 4:30 p.m., Aberdeen, Port of Grays Harbor Commission Chambers; June 2, 4:30 p.m., Anacortes, City of Anacortes Council Chambers; June 3, 4:30 p.m., Tacoma, Foss Waterway Seaport; June 4, 5 p.m., Seattle, Museum of History & Industry.
The workshops are organized by Parametrix, an Auburn-based consulting firm conducting a feasibility study on the proposal. The contact for Parametrix is Curt Warber, 425-458-6200, email@example.com. The study is funded by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
More details on the proposal are available at Maritime Heritage Network, http://www.maritimeheritage.net.