Rep. Cartwright, Sen. Casey Lead Bipartisan PA Delegation on Bill to Support PA National Heritage Areas, Local Economies
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led a group of Congressional Democrats and Republicans representing Pennsylvania in introducing the Pennsylvania National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act.
This bill would reauthorize for 15 years all five National Heritage Areas (NHAs) in the Commonwealth: Lackawanna Valley, Delaware & Lehigh, Schuylkill River Valley, Oil Region and Rivers of Steel. The Eighth Congressional District is home to both the Lackawanna Valley and Delaware & Lehigh NHAs.
“The heritage areas in northeastern Pennsylvania not only celebrate our industrial roots and preserve our natural areas, they are also economic drivers that boost local small business,” Cartwright said. “A renewed investment in our Commonwealth’s national heritage areas is an investment in our economic recovery.”
“Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas protect our natural and cultural resources while strengthening communities and stimulating local economies,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation provides our NHAs the certainty they deserve to continue their important conservation and economic development work for the next 15 years."
The bill would also remove the funding caps and increase their authorization so Congress can continue funding the heritage areas. The heritage areas then leverage this federal funding many times over through other funding streams, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in the region. These NHAs need to be reauthorized by the end of fiscal year 2020 in order to remain eligible for federal funding.
NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, in which the NPS supports state and local conservation and economic development through federal recognition, seed money and technical assistance. They remain in state, local, or private ownership or a combination thereof, and are supported by grants from the federal government and other sources, which can support job-creating projects and businesses.
The two NHAs in the Eighth Congressional District make sizable contributions to our local economy. A 2017 study found that “the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor had an economic impact of $475 million, generated through direct jobs, wages, salaries, consumer spending, tax revenue, and more,” according to the organization’s website. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley generated $72 million in economic activity in Lackawanna County in 2016, according to its user study and economic impact analysis that year.
This legislation is co-sponsored in the U.S. House by Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Dwight Evans (D-PA-03), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Dan Meuser (R-PA-09), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15) and Susan Wild (D-PA-07).