Friday, May 21, 2010

Obama Administration Endorses Pennsylvania Heritage Area

Seeks Delay Pending Legislation
Implications for Honolulu Capital Heritage Area nomination

By Preservation Action

The Senate Energy Committee has been considering an omnibus lands bill that will include a number of provisions, including an expansion of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the designation of the first national park in Delaware (the only state that does not have one), and new national monuments - including the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area in Colorado. Of particular interest, however, is also the establishment of the Susquehanna Gateway National Heritage Area in Pennsylvania (S. 349).

While the administration has endorsed these measures, at a hearing held this week, they have asked the committee to delay the Susquehanna heritage area to allow the development of a more comprehensive national heritage areas position. According to the testimony of Stephen E. Whitesell, Associate Director of Park Planning, Facilities and Lands of the National Park Service, the delay is requested "...until program legislation is enacted that establishes criteria to evaluate potentially qualified national heritage areas and a process for the designation and administration of these areas." He indicated the Administration would be submitting such a proposal in the "near future."

In February, the Administration proposed a cut in funding for National Heritage Areas (NHAs) by approximately 50% at the same time it called for eliminating funding for Save America's Treasures and Preserve America. The justification language submitted for this cut stated that "Criteria has not been established to evaluate potentially qualified NHA sites for designation. As a result, sites have been authorized that do not necessarily warrant designation. The program also lacks key management controls to determine whether Federal funds are well spent."

Last year, Senator Daniel K. Inouye introduced legislation to achieve designation as a National Heritage Area for the ahupua‘a covering downtown Honolulu, Nu`uanu Valley, and adjacent areas. See