Policy Update Apr 11, 2018

Position on H.R. 1791 & H.R. 2991

NPCA submitted the following positions to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands ahead of a hearing scheduled for April 11, 2018.

NPCA supports the following two National Heritage Area establishment bills. Both Mountains to Sound Greenway and Susquehanna Heritage have sustained long-term operations that have demonstrated their ability to raise money, support partners and preserve resources. Susquehanna Heritage has operated for nearly two decades as a Pennsylvania State heritage area while Mountains to Sound enjoys the support of a trust, a governing board and more than 6,500 businesses including REI, Expedia and the Trust for Public Land. Adding these candidate sites to the National Heritage Area (NHA) program makes sense.

We remain mindful, however, that the absence of programmatic legislation to coordinate heritage areas and inadequate operating funds for the 49 NHAs that currently exist, complicates the process of adding new sites. NPCA recommends passage of H.R. 1002, the National Heritage Area Program Act, which would create a system of National Heritage Areas (the current program lacks such a formal structure), and the increase in operating funding for National Heritage Areas to $25 million annually. Enactment of H.R. 1002 will bring much needed uniformity to the way NHAs are designated, managed, assessed and funded. Increasing the program’s operating budget to $25 million will provide relief for existing heritage areas and accommodate the addition of qualified new sites without requiring the older, more well-established NHAs to suffer budget cuts.

NPCA supports:

  • H.R. 1791: Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act – This legislation links rural Washington with Seattle, while supporting local communities’ protection of historic structures and open space important for farming and recreation. It highlights the people, history, cultures and landscapes along the primary transportation artery coming from the East and which has been important to developing the nation’s gateway to the Pacific and Asia.
  • H.R. 2991: Susquehanna National Heritage Area Act – This legislation will support place-based heritage tourism and recreation, advance conservation initiatives that protect the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay, and lead to much needed job growth in the Lower Susquehanna Region. The lower Susquehanna River region reveals unique and iconic stories in American history from the site of Native American villages to pivotal Civil War battles. The passage of this legislation, with sufficient investment in the National Heritage Area Program, can support local businesses and leverage federal investments into the National Park Service’s Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.