National Heritage Areas

A National Heritage Area is a way to recognize and promote a region’s special qualities. Heritage Areas are living, working landscapes that recognize the important role of a region in our country’s story and celebrate its contributions to American history and culture.

Heritage Areas video

Silos & Smokestacks NHA

Silos & Smokestacks NHA, Iowa

Heritage Areas improve possibilities for people and organizations to work better across traditional borders and preserve and promote our local historic, natural and cultural resources. This can mean new partnerships, economic development, and local initiatives to celebrate and protect unique places.

Right now, there are 49 nationally designated Heritage Areas throughout the United States. Heritage Areas receive technical assistance from the National Park Service for a limited period of time. It is assumed every NHA will plan, develop and sustain itself independently. Visit the National Heritage Areas website to learn more.

What Are the Potential Benefits?

  • Increased tourism and economic growth
  • New opportunities to develop and promote a regional identity
  • New partnerships across traditional boundaries (like states and counties)
  • Collaboration on projects to conserve the area’s assets

Some ways Heritage Areas promote their regions:

  • A marketing campaign promoting local and regional heritage tourism
  • Recognizing and preserving special sites and producing a guide map
  • A bike trail connecting important historic sites
  • Revitalizing historic downtowns
  • Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce to promote traditional artists

Examples of National Heritage Areas:

National Recognition, Local Management

Heritage Areas are designated by Congress and managed locally, usually by a coalition made up of nonprofits, businesses, and public entities. Participation is voluntary and zoning and land use decisions continue to be made by local governments.

Fact Sheet

National Heritage Areas 101