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