Historic National Heritage Area Program Bill Passed to Support Future of Colorados Heritage

Cache La Poudre River flowing through northern Fort Collins (taken Oct. 14, 2004) © 2004 Matthew Trump

The National Heritage Act of 2020, H.R. 1049, was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday, December 4, to establish a National Heritage Area System and reauthorize funding for the nation’s 55 National Heritage Areas until the fiscal year 2034.

Three of the country’s 55 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are within Colorado, including Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, South Park National Heritage Area, and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. NHAs are places that Congress designates for cultural, natural, and historic resources that combined tell a story about the nation’s heritage.

The Colorado Heritage Areas are authorized to only receive appropriated funding for three more years until 2024. NHAs receive technical and financial assistance from the National Park Service who administers the program.

National Heritage Areas also work to champion historical preservation, educational programming, heritage tourism, and economic value for their communities. An Economic Impact Study conducted in 2017 by the Poudre Heritage Alliance showed an annual $81.6 million impact on their region and $6.9 million generated in tax revenues.

This bill would allow an additional ten years of federal funding for the Colorado NHAs before the Department of the Interior evaluated the areas’ accomplishments and submitted them to specific congressional committees to recommend future federal funding. The Department of the Interior will prepare a report with recommendations for the National Park Service’s continued role based upon the evaluation.

The bill has received bipartisan support and over 220 co-sponsors such as Colorado Representatives: Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Diana DeGette, and Rep Scott Tipton. The bill was introduced to the Senate on Monday, December 7, and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for review after two readings.

This committee will meet in the new year on Friday, January 29, 2021.

For more information regarding the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area and the Poudre Heritage Alliance, visit: https://www.poudreheritage.org/

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