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The Legislative Score Card: National Heritage Areas June 2013

By Brenda Barrett June 28, 2013

It is hard to keep up with all the legislative comings and goings of the National Heritage Area (NHA) program. For those that have been following the efforts of the NHAs to be reauthorized and receive a modicum of funding, it has been a roller coaster ride. Earlier this year, just when it looked like the funding for 12 areas was going to be derailed and the overall NHA program dollars were to be cut by 50 %, there was a last minute was a last minute save. The twelve earliest NHAs got a last minute fix and level funding was retained for the program.  To read more see our post of March 28, 2013 – Another Close Call.

Since this is just the beginning of the 113th Congress and there is already so much legislative action, the Living Landscape Observer prepared a National Heritage Areas score sheet. Hope this is helpful:

Legislation to Establish a National Heritage Area Program

The most recent program bill is National Heritage Areas Act of 2013, (H.R. 445) was introduced with bipartisan support by representatives Charles Dent (R- PA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY).

Score: One bill and as of the end of June 2013 – 31 cosponsors

Legislation to Reauthorize National Heritage Areas

A more recent development is the introduction of a number of re-authorization bills for some of the twelve older NHAs whose funding authorization was extended through FY 2013.  These bills include:

Legislation (H.R. 2236 and S. 1138) to reauthorize NHA designations for four Pennsylvania areas  for another decade introduced by Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17), and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). The NHAs are the Rivers of Steel Industry National Heritage Area, Lackawanna Heritage Valley National Heritage Area, the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area as National Heritage Area.

Legislation (S. 1186) to reauthorize the Essex National Heritage Area introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congressman John Tierney  (D-MA), the bill would extend the federal government’s commitment to the Essex National Heritage Area.

Legislation (H.R. 2407 and S. 1138) to reauthorize the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area  introduced by Congressman Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Gillibrand (D-NY).

Legislation (S. 1151) to reauthorize the America’s Agricultural Partnership introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA).

Score: Four bills for the reauthorization of eight National Heritage Areas.

Legislation to turn National Heritage Areas into National Park Units:

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park Establishment Act (H.R. 706 and S. 371) is a revised version of a designation bill for the area that was introduced in the last congress. It includes language “ to support and enhance the network of partners in the protection, improvement, management, and operation of related resources and facilities throughout the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.” See our past posts on this effort, including

Hudson River Valley Special Resources Study Act  (S.  1139) to authorize a study of the region’s possible national significance and the suitability ad feasibility of designating the area as a unit of the National Park System.

The Sangre de Cristo National Historical Park Establishment Act (S.503) as part of the bill the park is to develop actions and manage cooperatively with the existing national heritage area.

Score: One study bill and two designation bills.

Legislation to create New National Heritage Areas!

H.R.89: To establish St. Croix National Heritage Area – VI

H.R.1004 and S.228: To establish Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area – CA

H.R. 1349: Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area – AZ

H.R. 1785 Mountain to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area – WA

H.R. 2360 and S. 869: Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area- AL

S.219: Susquehanna Gateway National Heritage Area Act – PA

Score: Six proposed new areas

 Appropriations Funding for FY 2014:

Then of course there is the regular old appropriations bill for the NHAs FY 2014 budget. And again the administration has proposed reducing the funding from the FY 2013 levels. See Preservation Action Update  April 12, 2013.

Score: Too close to call

So there you have it folks, only six months into the 113th Congress and there is a lot going on in the NHA universe.  From an economic perspective, this is a lot of interest in a program whose budget crested at $18 million dollars!

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