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December 2020

Press Release: Historic National Heritage Area Program Bill Passed in the House Supports Future of Colorados Heritage

By News


December 17th, 2020

For immediate release; for more information, contact:

Kathleen Benedict, Executive Director

Poudre Heritage Alliance


Historic National Heritage Area Program Bill Passed in the House Supports Future of Colorados Heritage


Washington, DC – Colorado, USA (December 17th)– The December 4th passage in the House of Representatives of the National Heritage Area Act of 2020, H.R. 1049, establishes a National Heritage Area System and reauthorizes funding for the nation’s 55 National Heritage Areas (NHAs), three of which are in Colorado, until the fiscal year 2034. National Heritage Areas are places designated by Congress for their cultural, natural, historic resources that combined tell a nationally significant story about our nation’s diverse heritage. The bill is currently under review in the Senate. 

The three Colorado Heritage Areas, Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (designated in1996), South Park National Heritage Area (designated in 2009), and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (designated 2009), are currently authorized to only receive appropriated funding for three more years until the year 2024. While not considered National Park Units, NHAs receive technical and financial assistance from the National Park Service who administers the program. Among championing historic preservation, educational programming, and heritage tourism, NHAs generate economic value for their communities, on average $5.50 per $1 of federal funds spent. An Economic Impact Study completed in 2017 by the Poudre Heritage Alliance (the managing entity of the Cache la Poudre River NHA) showed an annual $81.6 million impact on their region and $6.9 million generated in tax revenues. 

This bill would allow for 10 additional years of federal funding for the Colorado NHAs before the Department of the Interior evaluates the accomplishments of the areas, and submits to specified congressional committees for a recommendation on future federal funding. Based upon the evaluation, the Department of the Interior will prepare a report with recommendations for the National Park Service’s continued role, if any, with respect to the area. The bill had bipartisan support and over 220 co-sponsors including Colorado Representatives: Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Diana DeGette, and Rep, Scott Tipton. 

On December 7th, 2020, nearly two years after its first introduction to the House in February 2019, the bill was introduced in the Senate. After two readings, it was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for review. This committee will meet in the new year, on January 29th, 2021. 



The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA), a 45-mile stretch of the Lower Poudre River, tells the story of the river where Western Water Law took shape and how the river still informs the use of water throughout the arid West today.  CALA’s 501(c)3 nonprofit managing entity, the Poudre Heritage Alliance – PROMOTES a variety of historical and cultural opportunities; ENGAGES people in their river corridor; and INSPIRES learning, preservation, and stewardship. Find out more at: