National Heritage Areas

WHAT ARE THE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS?

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape that celebrates our nation’s diverse heritage. NHAs are lived-in landscapes that through collaboration with communities provide assistance in determining how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. NHA’s are grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.

WHEN WAS THE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA PROGRAM CREATED?

Congress designated the first heritage Area on August 24, 1984, to the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. Currently, Congress has established forty-nine (49) NHA to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources that form distinctive landscapes. Congress has established heritage areas for lands that are regarded as distinctive because of their resources, their built environment, and the culture and history associated with these areas and their residents. A principal distinction of these areas is an emphasis on the interaction of people and their environment. Heritage areas seek to tell the story of the people, over time, where the landscape helped shape the traditions of the residents.

HOW IS THE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA PROGRAM FUNDED?

Congress typically determines federal funding for NHAs in annual appropriations laws for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. NHAs can use federal funds for staffing, planning, and projects.

Congressionally authorized NHA entities are eligible to receive funding through the Heritage Partnership Program Fund. Funds are distributed to NHA entities through cooperative agreements.

THE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA DESIGNATION FOLLOWS A TWO-STEP PROCESS

  1. The completion of a feasibility study

    The National Park Service (NPS) recommends that community members or organizations interested in National Heritage Area (NHA) designation undertake a feasibility study (rather than completing an application or nomination) to assess whether (1) the landscape has an assemblage of natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources that, when linked together, tell a nationally important story; (2) opportunities exist for increasing public access to and understanding of contributing natural, cultural, and historic resources; (3) an organization exists that has the financial and organizational capacity to coordinate heritage area activities; and (4) support for NHA designation exists within the region. NHA feasibility studies can be prepared by community members, a consultant, or the NPS.

  2. The introduction of authorizing legislation

    The United States Congress designates regions of the country as National Heritage Areas. The NPS, as the federal body charged with managing the NHA program, frequently testifies as to whether or not a region has the resources and local financial and organizational capacity to carry out the responsibilities that come with a designation.

 

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE?

The National Park Service is a bureau of the Department of the Interior and operations are overseen by the Departments Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. NPS was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. Yellowstone National Park is the nation’s first national park.

The arrowhead was authorized as the official National Park Service emblem by the Secretary of the Interior on July 20, 1951. The components of the arrowhead may have been inspired by key attributes of the National Park System, with the sequoia tree and bison representing vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water representing scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead itself representing historical and archeological values.

WHO IS THE REGIONAL PROGRAM COORDINATOR?

National Heritage Area Program Coordinator Southeast Region: States served: SC, NC, GA, TN, AL, MS, LA, KY, FL Maggie Tyler, National Heritage Areas Coordinator maggie_tyler@nps.gov Southeast Regional Office 100 Alabama Street SW – 1924 Building Atlanta, GA 30303 phone: 404-507-5821

ACRONYMS

NPS – National Park Service

NHA – National Heritage Area

SHPO – State Historic Preservation Officer

THPO – Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

NRHP – National Register of Historic Places

MGCNHA – Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area

MOA – Memorandum of Agreement