The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust grants $350,000 to advance the newly-designated Maritime Washington National Heritage Area.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has granted $350,000 to advance the creation of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area along the state’s shoreline. The funding is going to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the coordinating entity for the heritage area, which is hiring their first program director for the heritage area.

“Washington has such a rich “west heritage, from fishing and international shipping to recreation, exploration, conservation and more,” said Lorin Schmit Dunlop, program director at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “It is a heritage that is alive and well not just in the past, but also the present. We are grateful to organizations like the Washington Trust that seek to nurture and share that heritage, and the Murdock Trust is honored to play a small role in supporting their efforts.”

Created by Congress in 2019, the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area aims to build partnerships to better tell the stories of Washington’s maritime heritage and support communities in maintaining and sharing their maritime resources. The heritage area, one of 62 in the nation and the only one focused on maritime heritage, spans Grays Harbor to the Canadian border. It includes 21 Tribes, 13 counties, 32 cities, and 33 port districts over 3,000 miles of shoreline.

As the coordinating entity for the heritage area, the Washington Trust will work to support the local organizations, governments, and Tribes focused on the region’s maritime heritage while also helping residents better connect with that heritage. 

“Something that makes Washington so special is that we still have a very active maritime heritage. It’s a world that is very alive and well here among people from many diverse background and cultures,” said Alexandra Gradwohl, the heritage area’s new program director. “It’s very exciting that we’re now able to move this program forward and help unify that maritime identity for the entire region.” 

So far, the Washington Trust has begun work on several projects, including helping the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend create interpretive materials for a new visitor center; collaborating with Sea Potential, a Seattle organization whose mission is to bring more BIPOC youth into the maritime field; and creating a photo series about maritime trades currently in Westport, including a family-owned oyster farm, a female-owned fish processor, and the bar pilots who navigate boats into Grays Harbor. Next, the Trust is working on a series focused on Tribal fisheries.

In November 2022, the Secretary of the Interior approved the Management Plan for the heritage area, which will serve as a navigation plan for the program in the coming years. More about the program can be found on the Washington Trust’s website

This grant to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation reflects the Murdock Trust’s continued investment in Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Over the last 10 years, the Trust has contributed approximately $220 million to nonprofits in Washington through more than 1,100 grants. 

Title background image courtesy of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.