What is a Heritage Area?

National Heritage Areas

A National Heritage Area (NHA) is a geographic area that is designated by the United States Congress as significant in the history of the nation due to its unique natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources. Each NHA forms a nationally-distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These areas tell important stories that represent the national experience through their physical features as well as the traditions that have evolved within them.

National Heritage Areas (NHA) collaborate with residents, businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations to promote conservation, community revitalization, and economic development projects. Although not a unit of the National Park Service (NPS), the NHAs create a valuable partnership with NPS. Heritage areas receive technical, planning, and financial assistance from the National Park Service’s National Heritage Areas Program.

The Lackawanna Heritage Valley was recognized by Congress as an NHA in October 2000. There are currently forty nine National Heritage Areas across the country.

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) is a membership organization of National Heritage Areas dedicated to enhancing the work of the heritage development movement. The ANHA promotes links among the individual Heritage Areas, as well as with emerging heritage areas and other organizations associated with heritage development. The ANHA educates the public and constituents about successes and opportunities, encourages partnerships, and supports private sector entrepreneurial activities in support of sustainable heritage development.

Pennsylvania Heritage Areas

Each Pennsylvania Heritage Area is a geographic region or corridor of the Commonwealth that spans two or more counties. These areas contain a multitude of historic, recreational, natural and scenic resources of state and national significance that, collectively, exemplify the heritage of Pennsylvania. Through regional partnerships and public grassroots planning strategies, these resources are identified, protected, enhanced and promoted to strengthen regional economies through increased tourism, creation of new jobs and stimulation of public and private partnerships for new investment opportunities.

The Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program (PHAP) is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). This program is a multi-tiered approach to the conservation, development and promotion of Pennsylvania’s heritage. The program is designed to assist communities in meeting their economic development goals, and to ensure that the legacy of the region and its natural, educational, recreational, and cultural assets are preserved.

Pennsylvania is a national leader in the heritage development movement. The Commonwealth has twelve heritage areas, more than any other state in the country. These areas encompass more than 2,500 communities. Click on the map below to see all twelve heritage areas in Pennsylvania. Click on the names to go directly to their websites.

The Lackawanna Heritage Valley was designated by the last Governor Robert P. Casey, the very first Pennsylvania Heritage Area in April 1991, in recognition of the region’s unique contribution to the American experience.

HeritagePA

Members of Pennsylvania’s twelve state and nationally-designated Heritage Areas and Corridors formed the HeritagePA Association in 2008 to serve as a statewide resource network. This collaborative effort is intended to strengthen and expand each region’s productivity and contributions. HeritagePA is a non-profit outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Heritage Areas Program, which formally designates Heritage Areas within the Commonwealth.