LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. – Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20) joined together to introduce bipartisan legislation that will strengthen and modernize America’s National Heritage Areas (NHAs). Dent and Tonko are co-chairs of the Congressional National Heritage Area Caucus.

“National Heritage Areas, like the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area in PA-15, are drivers of economic, environmental and cultural development. This legislation will improve the process for designating NHAs while protecting those currently designated for future generations. I’m glad to work together in a bipartisan manner with my friend and colleague Rep. Tonko in this effort to make necessary improvements to the existing NHA system,” said Rep. Dent.

The National Heritage Area Act of 2017 authorizes a NHA system that will include the nation’s 49 existing areas along with any designated by future Congresses. Additionally, this bill establishes standards and guidelines for the designation of new NHAs. This new system will provide for consistency and clarity when establishing new areas, as opposed to the current system that designates them on an individual basis. Under the requirements of this legislation, new NHAs will need a local coordinating entity to oversee its operations, pass an economic feasibility study, and show significant support from local communities in order to be established.

“Historic sites have a special ability to inspire us with a profound sense of place, binding our past and present. Experiencing this connection and these areas has the power to define us and inspire us to find wisdom, courage, and a deeper understanding of those that came before us. I want to thank my co-chair of the Heritage Areas Caucus Congressman Dent for being a dedicated partner in our efforts to mark and preserve these places that bring forward our history in ways that grow local economies and strengthen the fabric of our communities,” said Representative Tonko.

Both Members of Congress were recognized by the Alliance of National Heritage Areas on Wednesday, February 15th when they were presented with the group’s inaugural “Heritage Champion Award.” Dent and Tonko received the award for their leadership and support of NHAs.

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Pennsylvania has 5 designated NHAs, more than any other state in the country.

CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490