National Heritage Areas (NHA) combine ecological, cultural, and economic goals to improve the quality of life for both residents and visitors. Tourism and community economic development projects have added countless new jobs to these historic communities. The role of the Federal Government is quite limited, but nevertheless crucial: federal designation elevates the significance of these areas as well as the underrepresented social and cultural histories they preserve.
Openlands led efforts to establish the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor in 1984 as America’s first Congressionally-designated National Heritage Area, which became the prototype for 48 additional heritage areas. Learn more (written by Openlands President and CEO, Jerry Adelmann).