National Heritage Areas
Watch the video by the National Park Service to learn more about their National Heritage Area program.
A National Heritage Area (NHA) is a region that has been recognized by the United States Congress for its unique resources. It is a place where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape that tells an important story about United States history.
The designation has both tangible and intangible benefits. NHAs are rooted in a community’s pride in its history and traditions, and the residents’ interest and involvement in preserving and interpreting their unique landscape. It promotes a collaborative approach to resource stewardship, where community initiatives connect local citizens to the preservation and planning process.
NHAs are managed by a local coordinating entity in partnership with community stakeholders. Stakeholders include individual citizens, nonprofit and private entities, and local, state, and federal governments. This partnership approach provides the opportunity for a diverse array of constituents to come together to share their visions and perspectives on how best to manage the resources of the region.
Heritage partners, such as museums, historical societies, and universities, collaborate with one another to shape a plan and prioritize projects that will enhance heritage programming across organizations and highlight the distinct qualities that make their region special. In addition to improving historical and recreational resources and faculties, this approach serves to promote tourism to the area and sustainable economic development.
The National Park Service (NPS) acts as a partner and advisor to the NHA, providing technical assistance, but leaves all decision-making authority to the residents and organizations located within the region. Local control over the land is not compromised, as no land is owned or managed by the NPS or NHA under this structure.
Currently, there are forty-nine NHAs throughout the United States, with the first NHA designated twenty-five years ago. The FWHP is the first NHA to be proposed in the State of Wisconsin.
For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/history/heritageareas/FAQ