From the Motor City to the Arabia Mountains, we should invest in the cost-effective partnerships that share America’s stories and create jobs around the country

National heritage areas are large, nationally significant landscapes that preserve American culture and history. These 49 diverse sites include landscapes, museums, battlefields, historic buildings and other attractions that are maintained through innovative partnerships between businesses, citizen groups, municipalities and other stakeholders interested in promoting an area’s unique character.

This program is one of the National Park Service’s most cost-effective programs. Designated by Congress, national heritage areas receive a modest amount of federal funding and technical assistance. National heritage areas must match their federal funding dollar for dollar with non-federal sources. Across the board, heritage areas exceed this minimum requirement, raising an average of $5.50 in private, state or local money for every federal dollar they receive.

This funding enables national heritage areas to breathe new life into economically distressed regions by promoting tourism and inspiring local pride. A 2012 report found that national heritage areas contribute $12.9 billion annually to local economies and $1.2 billion in federal taxes while supporting 148,000 jobs. They do so without adding a single additional acre of land to the federal government’s inventory and while respecting the rights of private property owners.

For years, NPCA has partnered with national heritage areas to advocate for adequate federal funding to sustain these locally managed, economically valuable preservation initiatives. We strongly urge Congress to continue investing in these public-private partnerships that celebrate America’s heritage and create thousands of local jobs that cannot be outsourced.

From the FAME recording studio in the Muscle Shoals region of Alabama to the factory where Henry Ford built the first Model T in Detroit to the rare rock formations at Georgia’s Arabia Mountains, national heritage areas showcase unique parts of America. We must continue to preserve these important sites and tell their stories.

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