I've volunteered almost 2,000 hours with The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and have come to know that MTSG is such an amazing and important organization! MTSG works with volunteers, including young children, students, families, boy scouts, girl scouts, faith-based groups, and corporate groups. MTSG staff has really perfected volunteer events as they are so welcoming, prepared, and really strive to educate volunteers so that they will understand how important their work is and that they will want to come back again and again! They also hire crews of young adults as part of the Washington Conservation Corps to perform local environmental restoration and trail maintenance throughout the Greenway. Corpsmembers learn valuable physical skills, as well as team building and leadership skills. Environmental restoration is so crucial to provide food and habitat for local wildlife, to decrease flooding, to improve soil and air quality, and of course improve water quality for our beloved salmon!!! Our popular hiking trails are well-maintained so that they can be enjoyed by all. MTSG brings communities together through volunteer work, also working to create new walking/biking trails between cities, and promoting local farms, community events, and heritage. MTSG even works with construction planners to decrease environmental impacts, including the I-90 wildlife crossing project! They truly listen to what the community wants and works with local governments, businesses, and citizens to come to mutual agreements! I am SO PROUD of this organization and will continue to support them both financially and through volunteer work! HOORAY for the Greenway!
I volunteered with the Greenway Trust for nearly a year; and I've never worked with such a dedicated, motivated, ambitious and fun group of people. The Greenway tirelessly works behind the scenes, and in the public eye, to conserve some of the region's most treasured assets. Land acquisitions, restoration, regional trail gaps and a myriad of other projects have come through over the past 20 years thanks to the dedication of this organization and those who support similar goals.
As a scholar of urban planning, I’ve studied the growth management debate in the Seattle area. With a growing population, the Seattle region lacks sufficient trails through open space, near existing subdivisions, available for young families and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Despite Seattle debates among planners over planning concepts such as gravelscaping, mass transit, urban growth boundaries, “smart growth," and "smart growth towers," virtually all urban planners universally agree that the best way to preserve natural landscapes, in rapidly growing areas, is establishing permanent parks and building trails.
And, that is precisely what the Mountains to Sound Greenway (MTSG) has done, for two decades.
The current land conservation model in King County, under the Washington State Growth Management Act, is an urban growth boundary, separating high density sprawl, from low density five acre privately held estates. These five acre properties are not available for public recreation. Therefore, the urban growth boundary does not conserve open space for parks and trails.
(The King County urban growth boundary runs, from north to south, at the eastern edge of the Cities of Woodinville, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah, Bellevue, Newcastle, Renton, Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Auburn, Black Diamond, and Enumclaw. A few ”islands” of high density growth are permitted beyond the boundary, such as Redmond Ridge, and Cities in the Snoqualmie Valley.)
Since the five acre lots are not available for recreation, then under the current system, acquiring land for public trails is paramount for expanding outdoor recreational opportunities. Acquiring land outside the urban growth boundary for trails, in the vicinity of Interstate 90, is one of many diverse projects of the Mountains to Sound Greenway.
As the population grows, hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers will face increased pressure from their peers on the trails. Therefore, establishing more parks and trails is essential to keep up with population growth, just as expanding transportation infrastructure.
Furthermore, urban planners in public administration also value volunteers from groups, such as the Mountains to Sound Greenway, since they make their jobs easier. Volunteers plant native trees, remove invasive species, and build hiking and cycling trails - and also maintain and upgrade trails.
Indeed, with local tax revenues decreasing due to the recession, volunteers and philanthropic groups such as the Mountains to Sound Greenway are increasingly important, especially when Cities regrettably are forced to let go their very own talented urban planners, due to budget cuts.
As the Puget Sound region, and even Kittitas County (east of the Cascades, where the Greenway ends) faces increased development, the Mountains to Sound Greenway will continue to preserve open space and build trails for public use, indefinitely. Open space located near housing developments and freeways absorbs air pollution, provides trails for exercise, and supports wildlife, native bird populations, and endangered plants.
Even developers recognize the value of urban parks and greenbelts as natural amenities. Open space within close proximity to housing developments increases the selling price of homes.
In addition, the the Mountains to Sound Greenway offers informative educational materials for the public, such as the brochure “Building in the Mountains to Sound Greenway.” This brochure describes how to build architecture that is harmonious with nature, and the importance of preserving mature native trees in new developments.
Again, as with parks and greenbelts, even developers recognize that preserving native trees during construction enhances property values, along with architectural elements that blend in with the natural surroundings.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Mountains to Sound Greenway has collaborated with other conservation groups, civic organizations, schools, and Churches. And, the Mountains to Sound Greenway receives significant financial revenue, from dozens of well known Northwest companies, such as Boeing and Microsoft. And, amazingly, the volunteers and donors come from across party lines, such as former Republican U.S. Senator Slade Gorton.
In closing, I’d like to emphasize that the Mountains to Sound Greenway strategy meets the gold standard of professional urban planners for successful land conservation - acquiring land for permanent preservation and public use.
Be sure to view photos of local mountains along the Mountains to Sound Greenway on their web site: http://mtsgreenway.org/
I attempted to add photos here w/o success. They are now on my Yahoo photo flickr page: http://flickr.com/photos/tom9
Also note that one of the default fields for the user profile says that I am associated with the organization. This is NOT true and I cannot undo the field.
The Mountains to Sound organization serves a vital role in protecting the green space along the I-90 corridor in Washington state, through outreach, education, and allowing for direct citizen participation in restoration events. Their volunteer events are well-organized and educational, and they truly provide the volunteers with the feeling that they have contributed positively to their local environment.
Review from Guidestar
MTSG has been a wonderful organization to volunteer with over the last several years! They are always so organized and it is so easy to sign up for events on their website. It is also nice to have so much variety of work from planting trees, removing invasives, maintaining trails, to potting seedlings in the nursery. There is always something to do all year long.
Review from Guidestar
I started volunteering with MTSGT in May 2010 at the first Women in the Woods event. I had wanted to get involved with outdoor organizations for a while, and this was a great way to see if it would work for me. I was immediately impressed with what they do and how they do it. They are very diligent about safety, making it a priority for everyone, but it is also fun to work with such positive people. The organization makes a huge difference in maintaing and preserving a variety of outdoor areas for all of us to enjoy.
Review from Guidestar