McKinley and Miller Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize West Virginia National Heritage Areas

Wheeling National Heritage Area and National Coal Heritage Area set to expire this fall

WASHINGTON –Representatives David B. McKinley P.E. (R-W.Va.) and Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Wheeling National Heritage Area and National Coal Heritage Area which are set to expire September 30, 2021.

“The Wheeling National Heritage Area brought significant economic opportunity to our city by harnessing the historic character of downtown. It is crucial we extend their designations as National Heritage Areas to help continue economic development in West Virginia,” McKinley said. “National Heritage Areas deliver a significant economic return and help us showcase the sometimes-hidden gems of our cultural heritage.”

“I am proud to join this effort to preserve West Virginia’s historic legacy of coal mining,” said Congresswoman Miller. “Located in southern West Virginia, the National Coal Heritage Area is rich in precious memories of thousands of hardworking coal miners, who produce the coal that has powered America through the last century. It’s absolutely crucial that the National Coal Heritage Area and the Wheeling National Heritage Area be reauthorized as congressionally designated national heritage areas so the Mountain State’s history can be safeguarded for generations to come.”

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.

Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin introduced a companion bill in the Senate last week.

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.
  • 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 legislation. The bill passed the House last December but did not pass the Senate.
  • 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. McKinley led the effort on the House side to get the bill included in a larger package. 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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