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Thread: Article about heritage areas

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003

    Article about heritage areas

    HEADLINE: National Heritage Areas Catching On

    a little-known federal program that designates National Heritage Areas.

    for the first time, the program is facing resistance on Capitol Hill from budget hawks and property-rights advocates. The National Park Service has called for a freeze on new designations until lawmakers approve more formal guidelines for the program.

    the 37 existing sites have taken various approaches since the first was named in1984, designating a historic canal linking the Great Lakes and the Illinois River.

    With the popularity of the program growing, critics have emerged.

    "This is backdoor federal land-use planning,"

    Along with concerns about land restrictions, critics say the federal government has no business funding local conservation.

    The Park Service so far has failed to persuade Congress to establish formal criteria for heritage areas. As a result, the agency has withheld its support for new designations.

    On the Net:
    National Heritage Areas: http://www.nps.gov/history/heritageareas/
    GAO 2004 report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04593t.pdf
    Did you know about this program ?
    Do you live or work within one of these 37 Heritage Areas ?
    Were you involved in an application ?

    What should be the criteria for such a designation ?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Aug 2002
    Property-rights advocates have made the same claims about the Scenic Byways Program. I just don't see it. Rather, these programs serve as a resource for municipalities and other local/regional partners for technical assistance and grants.

    I've followed the progress of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and reviewed sections of its Preservation and Management Plan, since canal corridor municipalities are among my clients. The plan addresses topics like preservation of historic and cultural resources, interpretation, signage, economic revitalization, and tourism development and marketing, but makes clear that implementation of the plan will be achieved through partnerships at the local level. This includes assisting communities with specific canalway projects. One of the action items listed is to "increase community capacity to achieve stewardship goals." Does that sound like the feds imposing their "will" on municipalities?

  3. #3
    Sep 2005
    Tinkering in my imaginary garage
    In my experience, heritage areas are about preservation as well as tourism development in the form of linking heritage sites to one another and providing a central coordinating entity that can help these small and disparate partners with some needed resources. There is a lot of effort required to apply for and receive designation and NPS funds are only for a limited period of time and leverage other public and private funds.

    In my opinion, the tax and property rights arguments against heritage areas are kind of simplistic and aren't based on an actual analysis of these programs but reflect the usual claims of the anti-tax and property rights "movements." Unlike a lot of government funding or subsidies, money for heritage areas is generally leveraged (8 times over) using other public and private monies, and so perhaps a more effective form of government spending. Plus, heritage area funding may As far as property rights are concerned, I can't see any local governments succumbing to pressure from heritage area vis-a-vis land use planning because 1) heritage area sites are generally already preserved through either public or private means when they are formed and the heritage area entity focuses on reinforcing existing assets rather than building new ones and 2) they are a public-private partnerships with very little power and various interests that would tend to dilute any strong stance one way or another, except for perhaps general advocacy and resource provision around new conservation or preservation initiatives.

    Heritage areas are a good way to foster flexible partnerships among fragmented and resource constrained entities. Moreover, they celebrate an area's culture and heritage, whether this is old buildings, old battlefields, or old landscapes. The idea is to preserve community connections to the past while simultaneously developing tourism infrastructure, which is economic development. Interestingly, heritage areas are a diverse bunch, and reflect the values of a variety of public and private partners.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
    Mar 2006
    I agree 100% with RatchetyPlan. I lived in a Heritage Area and the local agency was incredibly helpful with downtown revitalization, community visioning, economic development, trail planning, building local capacity and leveraging an incredible amount of funds.
    This is in NO way an attempt for the feds to get involved in zoning. That is really stretching it!

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