Three Great Job Opportunities at SdCNHA

Preserve local history and culture. SdCNHA is hiring three energetic positions with opportunities for professional development in a fast paced and fun environment. Please send resumes and three references to

Grants & Projects Coordinator–Full Time

  • Creation of Grant Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding, Memorandums of Agreements and Service Contracts
  • Contract management of Grant Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding, Memorandums of Agreements and Service Contracts
  • Organizing and maintaining electronic and paper files and records of all grants and projects
  • Oversee and manage signature projects
  • Attend professional training appropriate to the position
  • Oversee and serve as staff representative for Grants and Projects Committee 
  • Assist Grants and Projects Committee to plan and accomplish goals identified in management plan
  • Assist in coordination of annual grant application announcement and application review process
  • Manage the incoming and outgoing grants, including reports to funders in collaboration with the Executive Director
  • Seek grant opportunities for SdCNHA to apply and assist in submitting grant proposals
  • Assist in the creation of annual budget and monitor Grants and Projects Budget
  • Assist in the creation of annual calendar
  • Assist in content creation of annual reports
  • Assist with reauthorization efforts
  • Assist with SdCNHA events
  • Assist in fundraising efforts
  • Other projects as assigned by the Executive Director appropriate to the position

Marketing & Outreach Specialist–Part Time

  • Coordinate marketing efforts of SdCNHA
  • Manage and stay current with SdCNHA social media channels
  • Maintain and update SdCNHA website
  • Create quarterly newsletters
  • Create monthly press release
  • Create and contribute to content and graphic designs for advertising and marketing materials
  • Manage marketing projects given by the Executive Director and Marketing and Outreach Committee
  • Manage SdCNHA’s digital marketing assets
  • Take initiative in finding new avenues to promote SdCNHA
  • Plan, oversee and manage events
  • Oversee and serve as staff representative for Marketing and Outreach Committee
  • Attend and report at monthly board meetings
  • Attend professional training appropriate to the position
  • Seek grant opportunities for SdCNHA to apply and assist in submitting grant proposals
  • Assist in organization’s community outreach
  • Assist in the creation of annual budget and monitor Marketing Budget
  • Assist in the creation of annual calendar
  • Assist in designing annual reports
  • Assist with reauthorization efforts
  • Assist in fundraising efforts
  • Other projects as assigned by the Executive Director appropriate to the position

Bookkeeper & Administrative Assistant–Part Time

  • Administrative duties including filing, record retention, and organization
  • Financial administration (budgeting, bookkeeping, financial reports, financial reviews,  checks requests) and accountability
  • Accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • Update financial, non-federal match, and inkind tracking spreadsheets
  • Order office supplies
  • Tracking inventory
  • Assist in planning and scheduling meetings, conferences, events, and signature projects
  • Seek grant opportunities for SdCNHA to apply and assist in submitting grant proposals
  • Assist in the creation of annual budget and monitor Operations Budget
  • Assist in the creation of annual calendar
  • Assist in financial information for annual reports
  • Assist with reauthorization efforts
  • Assist with SdCNHA events
  • Assist in fundraising efforts
  • Other projects as assigned by the Executive Director appropriate to the position
  • Assist with administrative support for potential audits 
Posted in News

Video Premiere at Pioneer Days

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area(SdCNHA) will premiere a documentary that highlights the settlement of Manassa and surrounding areas. The project is a collaboration between SdCNHA, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA) and Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) and was funded in part by the San Luis Valley Conservation & Connection Initiative (SLVCCI). The premiere two showings at the Manassa Opera House on Friday July 19th from 1pm and 2pm and is free to the public. 

The 30 minute video is part of Discovery Road, a documentary series by MPNHA that was created and is produced by James Nelson. Mr. Nelson has been writing and producing documentaries for radio and television for over 30 years. He works as a producer for ABC News and their shows such as Good Morning America, 20/20 and World News Tonight. He also produces stories for international radio shows, covers the Sundance Film Festival and the NBA-Utah Jazz. “My true love is the American West. The stories out west are endless and wonderful. I had never been to the San Luis Valley before we visited to produce this documentary. I will return. The vastness of the valley is only matched by the friendliness and warmth of its people. It is filled with history and a thousand stories waiting to be told.”

The documentary touches on culture, religion and early settlement. It ultimately highlights that it was through shared water practices, natural resource conservation and cooperation between ethnic groups, who were able to overlook cultural, religious and linguistic differences that has led to survival. It talks about acequia irrigation and its vital importance to the early settlement of the region and how the ancient water sharing practice is still the life-blood in some areas today. It traces the heritage of both Mormon settlers and Hispano settlers in the area. It also features sections on Art, Jack Dempsey and Amish settlers.

“I am excited and proud to share our first documentary about settlement in this area of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, as this is where my roots are. It is my hope that this is the first of many documentaries to come about local history, settlements, cultures, and traditions of our unique and treasured heritage area!“ – Julie Chacon, Executive Director Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.

This is the first time that three Intermountain Region Heritage Areas, from seperate states, have collaborated on a project. 

“Collaborating with other heritage areas in the Intermountain Region provides the opportunity to tell stories in a compelling way to help people appreciate the sacrifices and struggles faced by the pioneers as they carved out communities in a harsh, yet spectacular natural environment.” Monte Bona executive director, MPNHA.

This video will be shown at Intermountain Region yearly conference in Denver in August and the Alliance of National Heritage Areas bi-annual conference in Santa Fe this fall. The joint project will highlight the importance of cooperation in our shared past, cooperation between present day community neighbors, and cooperation between National Heritage Areas to strengthen our national story. “The people of these three Heritage Areas have a shared history full of hardships, conflicts and successes. We hope that this project will leave people feeling more connected to each other as settlers, as Americans and as humans. We are all in this journey together.” Katie Dokson, Marketing and Outreach Specialist for the SdCNHA. 

Posted in News

SdCNHA Welcomes Executive Director

“The Board of Directors is delighted to announce the appointment of Julie Chacon as Executive Director of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area(SdCNHA). A native of the San Luis Valley, Julie possesses an extensive understanding of the region’s culture. Her work with SdCNHA over the past several years will bring a wealth of experience to the table and her initiative will help advance the mission of SdCNHA.” Nick Saenz, Board President SdCNHA.  

After an extensive three month search, Ms. Chacon was selected to take the helm of the organization. SdCNHA received designation as a National Heritage Area by Congress in 2006 and will be up for reauthorization in the next couple years. “Julie has worked tirelessly for the Heritage Area since she began working for us in 2014. We are excited to have her leading us forward as we approach reauthorization.” Helen Sigmond, Alamosa County Commissioner and SdCNHA Board Member. 

Ms. Chacon, a San Luis Valley Native originally from Capulin, has 5 years experience as the Financial Officer for SdCNHA. She is a licensed life and health insurance agent with 8 years experience. Notebly, Ms. Chacon has completed six specialized contract and financial management courses from the federal government including: Federal Contracting, Contract Administration, Advanced Cost Principals, Contracting Officer’s Representative Course, Federal Grants, and Grants and Cooperative Agreements for Federal Personale. She has overseen contracting for over 40 SdCNHA projects, has worked closely with National Parks, and has done contracted work with Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. “We are very pleased to have a Conejos County native as our new Executive Director for SdCNHA. We know that she has a great love for the valley and a passion for preserving and telling the stories of the Heritage Area.” Mitchell Jarvis, Conejos County Commissioner and SdCNHA Treasurer. 

National Heritage Areas are a proven model of shared responsibility resulting in a cost-effective approach for the National Park Service to preserve, protect, and share the significant stories of America. This is accomplished through coordination with local jurisdictions, non-profits and other private partners to invest in nationally significant sites, that in turn spur regional economic development. The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area includes: Alamosa County, Conejos County, Costilla County, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Alamosa Wildlife Refuge, Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge and Baca Wildlife Refuge.

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Maestas Case


CONEJOS/ALAMOSA — The nation’s earliest and longest-unheralded victory in the war against educational segregation took place in the San Luis Valley between 1912 and 1914 and the big winners were Alamosa’s children.

In 1914, “The Denver Catholic Register” called the decision “historic,” noting that it “was the first time in the history of America that a court fight was made over an attempt to segregate Mexicans in school.” The suit grew from grassroots concern for equal education of Alamosa’s children.

Lying unnoticed from 1914 to 2016 and labeled Francisco Maestas et al vs. George H. Shone et al, the suit dates back to 1912 when Alamosa was still part of Conejos County, 10-year-old Miguel Maestas was forced to walk seven blocks from his home on the north end of Ross Ave. to the “Mexican” school building at the intersection of Ninth and Ross. The McKinney directory listed the “Mexican Preparatory School” as being at Ninth and Ross. There was no telephone number.

On Sept. 2, 1913, went to the Superintendent of Schools and asked to enroll his son. The request was refused and Maestas was told he had to enroll his son in the “Mexican School.” Land for the school was purchased in 1909 to serve only “Mexicans.” Maestas filed suit and was soon joined by fellow Hispanics and the Catholic Church.

Despite the fact that the area had long been part of the United States and the persons involved were born here, the reference was made to “Mexican” children and “American” families.

After a lengthy trial, District Court Judge Charles Holbrook determined that the plaintiffs had made a sufficient case for admittance of the students and issued an order to the school board and superintendent to admit the children to the public school most convenient to their homes. Holbrook stated that “in the opinion of the court … the only way to destroy this feeling of discontent and bitterness which has recently grown up, is to allow all children so prepared, to attend the school neaeest them.”

Learn more about the case and the upcoming commemoration statue

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SdCNHA Executive Director Search–Job Description

Employer Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area
The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) was formed through legislation that will preserve and promote the cultural, historical, and recreational resources of the area of three Counties in the San Luis Valley.
SdCNHA Executive Director
Professional Opportunities
San Luis Valley, CO
$45,000 – $55,000 annually
Position Description
“SdCNHA Executive Director”
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area
The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is seeking a highly motivated individual who is interested in overseeing the management of the non-profit organization.
Position Summary
Plan, organize, lead, manage, and evaluate the mission and the work of the organization. Develop strategic plans for programs, funding, staffing, and development of the mission and work of the organization. Lead and manage the work of the Board, volunteers, and staff to fulfill the mission and achieve key results established through plans. Implement and manage projects related to an approved management plan for the organization. Cultivate, maintain and develop relationships with constituencies and partners on local, state and national levels to assure effective program performance.
Position offered is full-time.
Reporting Relationship
The position reports to the Board of Directors of the organization.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
• Implements and communicates the mission and creates a vision for the organization throughout the National Heritage Area. • Develops and directs both long range strategic program plans and a comprehensive annual business plans and budget for the organization in accordance with the Management Plan. • Oversees fundraising activities including membership drives, annual endowment campaigns, grant proposals to government corporations and private foundations, and the planning and supervision of special fund raising events. • Directs and supervises all governmental relationships including legislative coordination at the state and federal level as well as contact with representatives of local, state and federal offices, commissions, bureaus, and services. • Provides leadership and direction for heritage development programs, services, finances, communication and constituency relationships. • Manages and coordinates the work of paid staff, volunteer, staff, and consultants including their recruitment, selection, orientation, and evaluation. • Designs, develops, administers, and evaluates policies and procedures for the appropriate conduct of corporate and business operations including planning, budgeting, marketing, fund development, evaluation of programs, and contact administration. • Works cooperatively in development efforts in creation of case statements and functional fund development programs that support the budget and financial plans of the organization. • Identifies, encourages, and coordinates the activities and programs of the organization with local, regional, state, national, or international groups whose activities are complimentary to, or whose activities may be beneficial to, the organization. • Directs staff in the marketing of the organization’s programs and services and evaluates their effectiveness. • Provides staff support for Board committees of the organization, including the preparation of agendas, reports, notices, and records of meetings. • Provides staff support to the Board of Directors, including the preparation of agendas, reports, notices and records of meetings. • Administers and manages the development, application, negotiation, and evaluation of grants, loans, and contracts for organization. • Implements and manages projects related to the approved Management Plan, including the oversight of a project’s scope of work and budget. • Prepares, in consultation with the Board of Directors and staff, an annual workplan and budget. • Prepares an annual report on the progress, accomplishments, services, and benefits of the organization. • Develops community consensus and maintains a positive project image with media and the community through regular briefings for civic and special interest groups, informational media, outreach activities, presentations at community events, and media contacts and follow-up.
• Resolve complex, politically sensitive problems encountered in performance of work assignments. • Performs other related duties as assigned by the Board of Directors. • Maintains a professional relationship and communicates with the National Park Service, the cognizant Federal agency for the organization.
Knowledge of:
• Computer hardware, software, and peripherals to enter, retrieve, research, and manage budget and grant compliance, development of brochures/ pamphlets, news release, and related software. Common applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. • Financial management and budget development practices and procedures. • Spanish language (Bi-lingual is preferred but no required).
Skills In:
• Effective oral and written communications. • Ability to lead, supervise and delegate duties to organizational staff, Board of Directors (as applicable), etc. • Handle and prioritize multiple task or priorities. • Negotiate and mediate multiple contracts and agreements among Federal, State, Regional, community, private foundations and private developers or organizations. • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with others. • Project management from implementation, monitoring and completion.
Physical Requirements/ Work Environment
• Extensive public speaking is involved. • SdCNHA is comprised of three counties, so some travel within the NHA is required. Additional travel to national conference, regional or state meetings may also be required.
Minimum Qualifications
• Bachelor’s degree in business, public administration, history, architecture, anthropology, museum studies or a related field, or equivalent qualifications and background in related field. • Three years of progressive administration experience in managing budgets, programs, staff, programs implementation with demonstrated interest in cultural or heritage tourism. • Demonstrated skills in communication, leadership, management negotiation, budgeting, and program evaluation. • Interest and knowledge of local heritage, cultural tourism, interpretation, and economic development as it relates to the mission and work of the organization. • Deep commitment to learning and personal professional development.

Salary/ Benefits
Annual starting salary is approximately $45,000 – $55,000. Standard benefits package may include vacation/sick leave, health insurance, etc.
Open until:
Position filled.
How to apply:
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area Executive Director will be responsible for planning and directing the mission and work of the NHA. Submission must include a cover letter, resume, and three letters of recommendation. Materials should be addressed to Dr. Nick Saenz, SdCNHA President, P.O. Box 844, Alamosa, CO 81101. Job candidates must be willing to undergo a background check. For more information please view the “SdCNHA Executive Director” job announcement at

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SdCNHA Welcomes Interim Executive Director Julie Chacon

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area welcomes Interim Executive Director Julie Chacon.  Ms. Chacon will provide strong leadership, communications and initiative during this time of transition following the departure of Executive Director Tori Martinez.

Ms. Chacon, a San Luis Valley Native originally from Capulin, has 5 years experience as the Financial Officer for SdCNHA. She is a licensed life and health insurance agent with 8 years experience. Notebly, Ms. Chacon has completed six specialized contract and financial management courses from the federal government including: Federal Contracting, Contract Administration, Advanced Cost Principals, Contracting Officer’s Representative Course, Federal Grants, and Grants and Cooperative Agreements for Federal Personale. She has overseen contracting for over 40 SdCNHA projects, has worked closely with National Parks, and has done contracted work with Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, a nonprofit organization providing an integrated and cooperative approach for the protection, enhancement, and interpretation of the natural, cultural, historic, scenic, linguistic and recreational resources within heritage area’s boundaries.

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Four New National Historic Sites Named in the SLV

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and History Colorado, through an Underrepresented Communities Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund of the National Park Service, Department of Interior, have successfully submitted four properties in the San Luis Valley to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Keeper of the National Register in Washington D.C. approved the submissions and officially listed the properties after returning to work from the government shutdown. The four properties include: The Garcia Ranch Headquarters in Antonito, Colorado; Saint Joseph’s Church and Cemetery in Capulin, Colorado; the S.P.M.D.T.U. Lodge Hall in Chama, Colorado; and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Conejos, Colorado.

Each nomination is over 20 pages in length and is available upon request. To begin the project History Colorado requested a bid for the research of the four sites, which was given to the research team of Front Range Research Associates, Inc. The team worked on the research and writing the nominations for over a year.

Garcia Ranch Headquarters in Conejos County, CO

The Garcia Ranch Headquarters was submitted as a district nomination that includes the adobe house, garage, privy, granaries, adobe potato cellar, a grain bin, sheep sheds, approximately 51.1 acres of outlying hayfields, and archaeological resources throughout the site. The ranch was considered significant for its ethnic/Hispano heritage, agriculture, architecture and development from 1885 to 1968. Reyes Garcia was a huge help in gathering the history for this site and sharing family stories about the site.

St. Joseph’s in Capulin, CO

Saint Joseph’s Church was considered significant for its contribution to broad patterns of history for the Hispanic and Catholic populations in Colorado. It also embodies distinctive architectural characteristics for its Gothic Revival stone construction, built in 1912-13 and its original stained glass windows. The nearby cemetery is also included for its significance from 1878 to 1968. The architect for the church is not known. The community, parishioners, and the Diocese were very supportive regarding the nomination and the research process.

SPMDTU Lodge Hall in Chama, CO

The Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (S.P.M.D.T.U.) Lodge Hall in Chama, Colorado was built in ca. 1920. It was considered significant for its contribution to Hispanic history of the state, its adobe construction, and its likelihood to yield important information for prehistory or history. The property was used as a lodge hall for the Hispanic labor union from the time it was built until recently. The S.P.M.D.T.U. is still an active organization in Colorado and Northern New Mexico. The organization was founded to provide mutual aid to its members by pooling their resources to assist one another in times of need.

Our Lady of Guadalupe in Conejos, CO

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the small community of Conejos, though considered Colorado’s oldest Catholic parish, it had not officially been listed in the National Register of Historic Places until now. The present building dates to 1927/48.  After an 1863 adobe church in this location partially burned, the rear portion of the building was constructed and attached to twin adobe towers in 1926. Later in 1948 the façade and towers were redone in concrete brick. The stained glass windows were mostly likely crafted by Frank Watkins of the Watkins firm in Denver.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic places worthy of preservation, managed by the National Park Service and administered for the state by History Colorado. Listings may include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. To learn more about the National Register visit To see National Register-listed properties in Colorado, visit To see a list of sites in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area visit Benefits to property owners for being listed include: formal recognition of the property’s significance and history, creation of a body of information that can be used for community planning, eligibility to obtain federal tax credits, eligibility to obtain state tax credits, eligibility to compete for grants. National Register listing does not impose restrictions on private property owners as to what they may or may not do with their property.

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund, National Park Service, Department of the Interior.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Posted in News

SPMDTU to be Restored


La Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area of Alamosa and a $193,361 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF) of Denver for 2019-2021. The Antonito Town Council has also donated $2,000. These and other member donated funds will be used to begin the interior and exterior restoration and rehabilitation of its Concilio Superior headquarters building in Antonito, Colorado built in 1925. In addition to other proposals, a GoFundMe page at has been established to raise $64,500 in matching funds for this grant.  See

The original SPMDTU meeting hall, located on the west side of Antonito’s main street, is listed in the State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places in the areas of Ethnic Heritage and Social History. In 2016, the SPMDTU received grants from the Colorado State Historical Fund and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area of Alamosa to develop architectural and construction documents for the building. These new grants will provide the funds to begin the actual restoration and rehabilitation of the building which will take several years.

The SPMDTU is the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States.  It was founded in Antonito, a small town in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado next to the New Mexico state line, by Celedonio Mondragón and six others to fight discrimination in the fields, mining industry, and railroads.  Also to defend their property rights.

After World War II the SPMDTU had more than 1,500 members. The SPMDTU had concilios locales (local councils or chapters) in 36 towns in northern New Mexico, three towns in Utah and 41 towns in Colorado.  They were numbered in order of their founding. Those in Colorado included the following: No. 1 Antonito, No. 2 Capulin, No. 3 Mogote, No. 4 Saguache, No. 5 Ortiz, No. 6 La Isla, No. 7 Los Sauces/Salida, (later became No. 7 in Denver), No. 8 Del Norte, No. 8 Los Valdezes, No. 10 La Jara, No.11 Fort Garland, No. 12 Del Norte/Nos. 8, 30, No. 15 Center/No 41, No. 16 La Garita, No. 17 Lobatos, No. 18 La Jara, No. 19 Alamosa, No. 20 Oak View, No. 21 Ignacio, No. 22 Conejos, No. 24 Pagosa Springs, No. 27 Monte Vista, No. 28 San Pablo, No. 29 Los Pinos/Valle, No. 30 Del Norte, No. 31 Chama, No. 32 Fort Collins, No. 34 Pagosa Springs, No. 35 Durango, No. 36 Montrose, No. 41 Center, No. 45 McPhee, No. 48 Aguilar, No. 49 San Luis, No. 50 Cañon, No. 52 Leadville, No. 54 Garcia, No. 60 Brighton and No. 60 Walsenburg.  The three concilios locales in Utah were: No. 59 Clearfield, No. 61 Odgen and No. 63 in Salt Lake City (see page 151-152 of La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture along the Río Grande).

Towns in New Mexico that had concilios locales include: No. 4 Rodarte, No. 9 La Madera/ Vallecitos,  No. 10 San Miguel, No. 11 Las Tusas, No. 12 Costilla, No. 13 Ojo Caliente, No. 14 El Rito, No. 15 Placitas, No. 18 Ranchos de Taos, No.  20 Ranchos de Taos No. 21 Española Valley ((Española, Alcalde, Velarde, Lyden), No. 23 Lumberton, No. 24 No Agua/ Tres Piedras, No. 25 Chama, No. 26 Española, No. 29 Los Pinos, No. 30 Chamita, No. 30 Ratón and Dawson, No. 32 Arroyo Hondo, No. 33 Las Cruces, No. 34 Chamita, No. 37 Rosa, No. 38 Tierra Amarilla, No. 39 Alcalde, No. 40 Velarde, No. 42 Arroyo Seco, No. 43 Cerro, No. 44 Questa, No. 45 Dulce, No. 46 Embudo/Dixon, No. 53 Taos, No. 57 Nambé, No. 58 Peñasco, No. 63 Amalia, and No. 64 Lyden.
The SPMDTU began as a mutual aid organization that sought, through non-violent actions, to combat the exploitation of Hispanic workers by land barons, mine owners, and the railroads.  Today, the organization is still active. Its concilios locales conduct monthly meetings and functions, in order to further the organization’s vision.

For more information visit the SPMDTU website at and see La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture along the Río Grande, written by José A. Rivera, a SPMDTU member and University of New Mexico Professor and published out of the University of New Mexico Press.

Posted in News

Tonko, McKinely Introduce Bill to Strengthen National Heritage Area Systems

Tonko, McKinley Introduce Bill to StrengthenNational Heritage Areas System

Bipartisan legislation backed by 60+ members establishes process for designating, evaluating and maintaining National Heritage Areas across the U.S.–Written by Matt Sonneborn

WASHINGTON – Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and David McKinley (R-WV) announced today that they have introduced the National Heritage Area Act of 2019, backed by a bipartisan group of 60 total cosponsors. This bill establishes, for the first time, standard criteria for designating new National Heritage Areas and creates a rigorous process for maintaining existing National Heritage Areas.

“National Heritage Areas connect us, and perhaps more importantly future generations, with the voices and places that have shaped who we are as Americans,” said Tonko. “These sites deliver more than just a significant economic return, they help us reveal the diverse and sometimes hidden gems of our cultural heritage and fill us with a sense of place that brings our complex history to life. Our National Heritage Area Act will help establish and maintain the strong local partnerships necessary to restore and protect these sites for generations to come. I am grateful to my fellow co-chair David McKinley and all of our cosponsors who recognize that we must know our heritage to understand ourselves.”

Tonko and McKinley are longtime supporters of National Heritage Areas and serve as co-chairs of the Heritage Areas Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The National Heritage Area Act will allow us to continue to celebrate and promote the beauty of our states, preserve our heritage, and plan for the future. National Heritage Areas ensure that the people who live, work and visit our beautiful states can enjoy them,” McKinley said. “Our bill will provide a clearly defined structure to oversee the management of heritage areas and will allow these popular public-private-partnerships to better preserve our national heritage, spur economic growth and create jobs.”

National Heritage Areas are sites that hold historic, cultural, and natural significance to the people of the United States of America. The National Heritage Area (NHA) Program is a cost-effective program run through the Department of the Interior based on a public-private

partnership model that matches every federal dollar with an average of $5.50 in other public and private funding. There are 49 National Heritage Areas across the country including the Erie Canalway and Hudson Valley Heritage Areas, which continue to benefit the Capital Region.
These sites and the organizations that maintain them have become a source of vital job creation and economic, cultural, historical, environmental, and community development.

 Establishes a standardized process for establishing new National Heritage Areas (NHAs)
 Creates an evaluation process for existing NHAs that guarantees accountability
 Modernizes the program to allow for long-term sustainability
 Defines an oversight structure that will effectively allow these popular public-private partnerships to better preserve the nation’s heritage and spur economic growth with basic federal support

The National Heritage Area Act:

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas offered strong support, saying, “We are very grateful for the leadership of Congressmen Paul Tonko and David McKinley in sponsoring the National Heritage Area of 2019. along with 53 co-sponsors. This reflects broad bi-partisan support from across the country. The Alliance of National Heritage Areas looks forward to working with Congress to advance this significant piece of legislation, which furthers National Heritage Areas’ efforts to preserve, protect, and promote our nation’s story.”

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) also expressed strong support for the bill: “National Heritage Areas use public-private partnerships to preserve and promote a broad range of stories that make up our rich, shared American experience. The National Heritage Area Program Act standardizes the way heritage areas are designated, managed and assessed, and will make an already effective program even more impactful and efficient.

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Lawmakers Move to Restore National Scenic Byways Program

Written by Scenic America

America’s scenic roadways got a major boost in Congress on February 6 as the House of Representatives passed a bill to restart the dormant National Scenic Byways Program, while companion legislation was introduced in the Senate.

“We are thrilled with Congress’ support for scenic byways,” said Mark Falzone, president of Scenic America. “The National Scenic Byways Program is a proven winner: it protects places with historic, scenic and cultural significance and contributes to local economies by promoting them as destinations.”

The House Bill, H.R. 831, sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Rep. Garret Graves, Republican of Louisiana, passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 404 – 19.

“As Rhode Islanders know, our state is home to some of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country,” said Rep. Cicilline. “This bipartisan bill will allow us to capitalize on our state’s natural beauty and generate millions of dollars in new economic activity. I’m pleased that this bill passed the House today and I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

“Louisiana’s historical byways weave through her natural beauty and help tell the story of our history and unique culture. They are critical to preserving our heritage, growing our economy for the future and caring for our rural communities,” said Rep. Graves.

The Senate bill, S. 349, also enjoys bipartisan support and is sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland.

“I am proud that my home state of Maine boasts not only three National Scenic Byways, but also the Acadia All-American Road. These roadways provide Mainers and tourists alike with spectacular views and memorable experiences, while at the same time spurring much-needed economic activity in the surrounding areas,” said Senator Collins. “The National Scenic Byways Program represents a true win-win scenario by protecting precious corridors and providing tangible benefits for local communities.”

“Maryland is home to 18 designated byways, and the reopening of this program will be beneficial to future development and maintenance of these important routes,” said Senator Cardin. “This program helps direct visitors to areas of interest along our scenic byways, and generates revenue for the surrounding communities.”

“We applaud the exemplary leadership of Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Graves resulting in today’s passage of scenic byways legislation in the House,” said Falzone. “And we extend our sincere appreciation to Senator Collins and Senator Cardin for their visionary support of our country’s scenic roadways and rural economies. We look forward to helping pass their bill in the Senate.”

Since its inception in 1991 the program has bestowed the National Scenic Byway designation on 150 roads around the country, but the last round of designations occurred ten years ago and Congress officially pulled support for the program in 2012.

National Scenic Byways have been shown to generate significant economic activity for nearby communities, many of which are small and rural in nature. A 2010 report from the University of Minnesota showed a $21.6 million economic impact from traveler spending along both the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and nearby Lake Country Scenic Byway. A 2013 study of Scenic Byway 12 in Utah found that the byway generated nearly $13 million annually in local spending.

A recent survey found that 44 state scenic byways across the country are prepared to take advantage of the legislation as soon as the program is reopened. “The National Scenic Byway designation means these roads are sought out by both domestic and international travelers, and it’s critical that we provide local byways with the opportunity to seek the national recognition and reap the well-established benefits,” said Falzone.

Scenic America encourages the public to reach out to their Members of Congress in support of this bill by visiting:

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