NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA
What is the Future of AFHA?
The Appalachian Forest Heritage
Area (AFHA) is seeking National Heritage Area designation. This will
provide national recognition and credibility, and the opportunity for
substantial funding for long-term development of the project. We will
need YOUR help in supporting this effort.
Senate Bill 3167, the Appalachian Forest National Heritage
Area of 2016, was introduced on July 12, 2016 by Sen. Joe
Manchin (D-WV) co-sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). The bill
was considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
on September 22, 2016, with favorable comments from Sen. Manchin,
Sen. Capito, and the Department of the Interior.
House Resolution 693 – to designate Appalachian Forest National
Heritage Area - was introduced February 3, 2015 by Congressman
David McKinley (WV-1) with co-sponsorship from Congressmen Evan
Jenkins (WV-3), Alex Mooney (WV-2) and John Delaney (MD-6). It has
been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. This is
the first time that the AFNHA bill has been introduced in the House.
AFHA is also strongly supporting the National Heritage Area
Program Bill, HR 581 (Dent / Tonko) which would create a
more structured National Heritage Area Program within the National
Park Service. This Bill will clarify the criteria for National
Heritage Area designation, and should improve the chances for
designation of emerging areas like Appalachian Forest National
Senate Bill 1641 “West Virginia National Heritage Area Act
of 2013” was introduced in November 2013 by Senators
Rockefeller, Manchin, Cardin, and Mikulski. This bill would have
designated the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area and
extended the funding eligibility for the existing National Coal
Heritage Area and Wheeling National Heritage Area. The bill was
reported out of committee in 2014, but was not passed. National Coal
Heritage Area and Wheeling National Heritage Area were reauthorized
as part of an omnibus bill in December of 2014.
What is a National Heritage Area?
A "National Heritage
Area" is a place designated by the United States Congress where
natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form
a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of
human activity shaped by geography. Heritage areas offer the potential
to ensure key educational and inspirational opportunities in perpetuity,
while retaining traditional local control over, and use of, the landscape.
Congress has established
49 National Heritage Areas, in which interpretation, conservation, heritage
tourism and other activities are managed by partnerships among federal,
state, and local governments and the private sector. The National Park
Service provides technical assistance as well as financial assistance
for a limited number of years following designation. The Heritage
Area program is a grants and outreach program for the National Park
Service, not a land management program. There are NO new regulations
or management controls associated with designation.
The key features emphasized
by the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area are economic development based
on heritage tourism, appreciation of our vast forest-related assets,
community development based on partnerships across geographic lines
and diverse interest groups, and supporting the forestry industry through
education and interpretation. If nationally designated, the Appalachian
Forest Heritage Area will be managed by a non-profit organization made
up of representatives from all counties and interest groups. Benefits
of National Designation would include national recognition and visibility,
and long term funding for project development.
For more information about
National Heritage Areas:
The first step toward a
National Heritage Area designation is completion of a Feasibility Study
that includes assessing national significance of the Heritage Area story
and assets as well as showing the public support for the project. Resolutions
or support letters from local government entities, non-profit organizations,
businesses and residents are a crucial way to show local support. Following
the Feasibility Study, a designation bill specific to the Heritage Area
must be passed by Congress. Strong local support is, of course, key
to a successful effort.
AFHA Feasibility Study for
National Heritage Area Designation
What are our Next Steps?
- AFHA has completed our Feasibility
Study to answer all of the National Park Service criteria for National
Heritage Area designation. The National Park Service has reviewed
and approved this document.
- HR 693 – to designate Appalachian Forest National
Heritage Area, has been introduced and referred to the
House Committee on Natural Resources. The companion Senate Bill 3167
has been introduced, referred to the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, and has been heard by the committee.
- Demonstrations of local support. Let your Congressmen and
Senators know that you support Appalachian Forest National Heritage
Area and the National Heritage Area Program Bill, and thank them for
their support. Local governments, non-profits, and residents
throughout the area have sent their support letters and resolutions
to demonstrate their interest in the AFNHA and National Heritage
Areas. Additional current letters will be very helpful in supporting
passage of the bills. Send letters to AFHA, Box 1206, Elkins
WV 26241. Click
for more information on how to write letters or show your support.