WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to reform and modernize the nation's National Heritage Areas (NHA).
The National Heritage Area Act of 2012 (H.R. 4099) was drafted in cooperation with the Alliance for National Heritage Areas (ANHA) and with input from the National Park Service (NPS).
"Northeastern Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful parks and vibrant cultural centers in the nation. It is important that we preserve our community's history and build our future by utilizing our national resources. The National Heritage Area Program is critical to our region and across Pennsylvania because it stimulates our economy by increasing tourism. This creates jobs, increases community development, and helps cultivate cultural education. The National Heritage Area Act of 2012 makes a good initiative even better by modernizing this essential program," Rep. Barletta said.
"The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is extremely grateful to Congressman Barletta for cosponsoring the proposed legislation to improve the National Heritage Areas program," said ANHA Chair and former Executive Director of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, C. Allen Sachse. "NHAs are a proven model to save and share America's heritage with minimum public investment. NHAs have been saving America's significant stories and creating jobs in NHA towns since 1984. We're looking forward to continuing this legacy within the framework of the new legislation."
The National Heritage Area Program is one of the Department of the Interior's most cost-effective initiatives, relying on a public-private partnership in which every federal dollar is matched with an average of $5.50 in other public and private funding.
While the National Heritage Area Program is already a model of the kind of efficiency needed in federal programs, cosponsors of H.R. 4099 believe it can be modernized to better ensure long-term sustainability and savings. This bipartisan legislation takes a new approach to heritage areas by establishing for the first time a standardized set of criteria across the board for the designation of new NHAs and the review of those previously authorized. Having a clearly defined structure to oversee the management of heritage areas will allow these popular public-private partnerships to better preserve the nation's heritage and spur economic growth with minimal federal support.
Rep. Barletta is a member of the Congressional National Heritage Area Caucus.