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Bishop, Tonko Agree on Heritage Area Designation Improvements

January 30, 2020

Yesterday, the House Committee on Natural Resources considered H.R. 1049, the National Heritage Areas Act of 2019, legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) to establish criteria and standards for the designation, funding and management of National Heritage Areas (NHA). Following the adoption of two amendments offered by Ranking Republican Bishop (R-Utah), the measure passed with bipartisan support by voice vote.

“Mr. Tonko’s bill is not perfect… but I applaud Mr. Tonko going into a minefield of a difficult situation that’s been caused by our inability to be realistic about what we are doing and at least coming up with the first steps going forward…”

Bishop’s amendments provided a fiscally wise reduction in the number of years NHA’s would be able to receive federal funding, and also established important evaluation requirements that will lead to the self-sufficiency that this program was always intended to achieve.

“We need to continue these conversations to actually get to the point where Heritage Areas can become self-sustaining.”

Read Amendment #1 HERE.

Read Amendment #3 HERE.

Background: NHAs are designations by Congress to highlight regions with national significant natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service, states, and local communities, in which the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance.  The first NHA was created in 1984; there are now 55 NHAs across the country. Currently, there is no comprehensive statute that establishes criteria for designating NHAs or provides standards for their funding, management, and the eventual drawdown of federal support. 

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