heritage areas: Atchafalaya

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.

heritage areas advocacy: membership

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas works collectively to protect and promote the people and places that tell America’s stories.

We are a membership organization of congressionally designated National Heritage Areas and partner-affiliated organizations promoting the professionalism and benefits of the program through education and advocacy. Together, we facilitate and celebrate partnerships that improve our effectiveness and impact.

Our goals:

  • Serve as one voice on interests related to all NHAs
  • Educate key constituencies about success and image of the NHA program
  • Facilitate strategic links among NHAs and partners
  • Enhance the organizational capacity of its members
  • Provide a network for sharing best practices regarding a variety of disciplines

Our governing board represents a diverse cross-section of National Heritage Leaders.

Board Member Representing
Sarah Watson Abraham Lincoln NHA (Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition)
Phyllis Baxter Appalachian Forest NHA
Revonda Cosby Arabia Mountain NHA
Dayton L. Sherrouse Augusta Canal NHA
Angie Chandler Blue Ridge NHA
Rolando Herts Mississippi Delta NHA
Andy Kitzmann Erie Canalway NHC
Annie C. Harris Essex NHA
Jim Ogle Freedom’s Frontier NHA
Brandi Roberts Great Basin NHA
Jessica Szelag Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm NHA
Shawn Pomaville-Size MotorCities NHA
Jon Hoekstra Mountains to Sound Greenway NHA
Elaine Schaefer Schuylkill River Valley NHA
Sara Capen Niagara Falls NHA
Julie Chacon Sangre de Cristo NHA
Dan Bolognani Upper Housatonic Valley NHA
Lowell Perry Yuma Crossing NHA

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress after a process that involves a significant commitment of the local community and support from the National Park Service.

Each National Heritage Area is governed by separate authorizing legislation and operates under provisions unique to its resources and desired goals. For an area to be considered for designation, certain key elements must be present. First and foremost, the landscape must have nationally distinctive natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources that, when linked together, tell a unique story about our country. It is strongly recommended that a feasibility study be conducted prior to a designation attempt.

National Heritage Area designation follows a two-step process — completion of a feasibility study and introduction of authorizing legislation. Prior to undertaking a feasibility study and developing legislation, please review the Feasibility Study Frequently Asked Questions and contact a National Heritage Area Program Coordinator in your region for a consultation.

To stay current on issues relevant to National Heritage Areas, designation and program legislation, become a member of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas.

heritage preservation: Oil Region

NHAs support more than 148,000 jobs throughout the nation, mainly in tourism, heritage preservation, conservation or outdoor recreation. These jobs and volunteer opportunities are locally sourced and embedded in the communities they serve. See our list of currently available opportunities to work with National Heritage Areas. Click here for a list of recently posted opportunities.

We accept membership from:

  • Congressionally designated National Heritage Areas 
  • Areas undertaking the designation process
  • Allied organizations that have common interests in conservation, environmental stewardship, historic preservation, and outdoor recreation (among others)

The Alliance hosts three meetings a year where we share best practices, decide strategic direction, and hear from industry leaders on issues facing larges-scale landscape stewardship. Our annual meeting is held each year in Washington, DC.

To become a member, please contact: AllianceofNHAs@gmail.com