Independent evaluations of National Heritage Areas demonstrate strength and effectiveness of the program.
At the request of Congress, the National Park Service commissioned a series of evaluations reviewing the accomplishments of 12 of the earliest designated NHAs. These evaluations conducted by an external evaluation firm document impressive accomplishments in a limited time frame over expansive geographic areas. Generally, the evaluations reported positive findings. Each of these NHAs is meeting the goals identified in its authorizing legislation through dynamic partnerships and is leveraging its NPS funding by as much as 5:1. NPS funds were identified as the consistent and flexible seed month for projects and programs.
“The next 100 years are about renewing connections with lifelong park goers while reaching out to new audiences, from urban communities to children and teens. Inspiring a new generation of park enthusiasts is the key to building a nation that invests in its great places.” —Nextcenturyforparks.org
Demonstrate Fiscal Responsibility: Every NHA met or exceeded the required match to the NPS fund. In many cases, NHAs leveraged significant investment dollars for the program and capital projects.
Preserve Nationally Significant Resources: Evaluations documented that all NHAs were conserving and interpreting cultural and natural resources of national significance.
Rely on Public Participation and Partnerships: Reports confirm that NHAs implement their management plans through partnerships with a high level of continued citizen involvement in all their work with the public.
The National Park Service is an Important Partner: NHAs received invaluable technical assistance in their programming from NPS.
Show Effective Management: Reports noted that, in general, the leaders of NHA organizations have exceptional skill in partnership development, strategic planning and longevity with their organization and have established themselves as reliable and credible partners in the communities where they work.
Provide Lessons in Working at a Landscape Scale: Many NHAs documented an increase in connectivity and understanding of the regional framework and the importance of their preservation.