heritage areas: Atchafalaya

What Is a National Heritage Area?

A National Heritage Area is designated by Congress for its unique nationally significant qualities and resources. It is a place where a combination of natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources have shaped a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape.

A National Heritage Area employs a partnership approach to heritage development involving collaborative planning around a theme, industry and/or geographical feature that influenced the nation’s culture and history. This planning strategy encourages residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to agree on and prioritize programs and projects that recognize, preserve and celebrate many of America’s defining landscapes.

A National Heritage Area seeks short- and long-term solutions to conservation and development challenges by fostering relationships among regional stakeholders and encouraging them to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals. See how Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis sees the relationship between the NPS and National Heritage Areas.

There are 49 designated and active National Heritage Areas in every region of the country working in close partnership with the National Park Service.

The National Park Service has recorded a podcast about the NHA program. Episodes chart the program’s history, follow the road from inception to congressional designation, and dig into the historical themes interrogated by NHAs across the country. Stream or download the podcast here.

Find an NHA near you here.