Bill to Strengthen National Heritage Areas Passes House

Bipartisan Legislation Secures Federal Resources for Wheeling and Strengthens National Heritage Areas System

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Representative David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va) applauded the House passage of the National Heritage Area Act, which establishes, for the first time, standard criteria for designating new National Heritage Areas and creates a uniform process for maintaining existing ones. McKinley was a lead sponsor of the bill.

“The National Heritage Area Act will allow us to continue to celebrate and promote Wheeling and the Appalachian Forest and dozens of sites across the country,” McKinley said. “The bill creates standard criteria for the management of these popular public-private-partnerships and will help preserve our heritage, spur economic growth and create jobs.”

National Heritage Areas are sites that hold historic, cultural, and natural significance to the people of the United States of America. The National Heritage Area (NHA) Program is a cost-effective program run through the Department of the Interior based on a public-private partnership model that matches every federal dollar with an average of $5.50 in other public and private funding.

There are 55 National Heritage Areas across the country including the Appalachian Forest and Wheeling National Heritage Areas located in West Virginia. These sites and the organizations that maintain them have become a source of vital job creation and economic, cultural, historical, environmental, and community development.

To read bill text, click here.

Background:

Congressman McKinley is a longtime supporter of National Heritage Areas and serve as co-chair of the Heritage Areas Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • The Wheeling National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act, which extends the authorization of the Wheeling National Heritage Area (WNHA) for an additional five years. Started in 1994, the Wheeling Heritage Area was designated as a National Heritage Area in 2000. The WNHA showcases Wheeling’s historic Victorian architecture, the waterfront park development, the historic city markets, and West Virginia Independence Hall.
  • Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act, which designates the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area as a National Heritage Area. The Heritage Area is comprised of 18 counties located in West Virginia and western Maryland. The designation allows them to receive greater recognition for tourism purposes, increased technical assistance from the National Park Service, and additional funding for projects. The bill was included in Senator Murkowski’s (R-AK) Natural Resources Management Act, S. 47, which passed both chambers and President Trump signed into law.
  • Heritage Area Appropriations – Rep. McKinley has consistently supported appropriation letters requesting robust funds for National Heritage Areas.

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