Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: John Wright
|For Immediate Release: March 30, 2004||
Interior Department Seeks Legislation for Establishing a National Heritage Area Program
WASHINGTON - Secretary of
the Interior Gale Norton announced today that the Bush administration
is proposing legislation to promote and enhance community and regional
heritage conservation efforts and to establish a National Heritage Area
"To be successful, National
Heritage Areas must be guided and supported by local communities and
the people who live in them. These areas also must work closely with
all partners in the region, including federal land-management agencies,"
Jones said. "This is of particular importance in the West, where
a National Heritage Area boundary may encompass federal land designated
for many uses."
Jones noted that the National
Heritage Area strategy is about fostering a partnership culture at every
level of government, with each level having appropriate and complementary
roles. The National Park Service should be the lead partner only when
the resources within a proposed heritage area are of national importance.
"To ensure a constructive
partnership, our legislative proposal requires the consultation and
concurrence of federal land-management agencies within the boundaries
of a proposed National Heritage Area," Jones testified. "In
addition to clarifying respective missions, this process of consultation
will help identify potential partnerships as envisioned by the administration's
recent Preserve America Executive Order. Under this initiative, local
communities and public land partners will collaborate for the promotion
of local economic development and heritage tourism through the preservation
and productive reuse of historic assets."
According to a draft GAO
report, no criteria have been adopted for determining the significance
or importance of National Heritage Area proposals. The department's
legislative proposal addresses this concern by limiting involvement
to regions that have a collection of resources that together tell nationally
important stories based on our country's heritage.
Successful National Heritage
Areas embody locally driven partnerships that emphasize local control
of land use and blend education, cultural conservation, resource preservation,
recreation and community revitalization. Jones noted that at its best,
the collaborative approach of the National Heritage Area concept embodies
Secretary Norton's "Four Cs" - Communication, Consultation
and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation.
"Recent studies and
our own experiences have shown that the National Heritage Area approach
links people and place, nature and culture, and the present with the
past. National heritage areas capitalize on the unique role local communities
play in caring for their heritage and telling their stories, Jones said.
"Our legislative proposal respects these principles. It also recognizes
the need to target our assistance to those areas where there is a national
interest and where the local partners meet established criteria for
National Heritage Areas are intended to preserve nationally important natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources by creating local, state and federal partnerships. While the federal government through the National Park Service provides technical and financial assistance, National Heritage Areas are locally initiated and managed areas that do not impose any new federal regulations or involve any federal land acquisition.
There are currently 24 National Heritage Areas in 18 states. More information on National Heritage Areas is available online at http://www.cr.nps.gov/heritageareas/
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