What is a Heritage Area?

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. We accomplish this through grass-roots coordination with local jurisdictions, non-profits and other private partners to invest in nationally significant sites that in turn spur regional economic development.

A National Heritage Area is designated by Congress for its unique nationally significant qualities and resources. It is a place where a combination of natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources have shaped a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape.

A National Heritage Area employs a partnership approach to heritage development involving collaborative planning around a theme, industry and/or geographical feature that influenced the nation’s culture and history. This planning strategy encourages residents, government agencies, nonprofit groups and private partners to agree on and prioritize programs and projects that recognize, preserve and celebrate many of America’s defining landscapes.

A National Heritage Area seeks short- and long-term solutions to conservation and development challenges by fostering relationships among regional stakeholders and encouraging them to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals.

There are 49 designated and active National Heritage Areas in every region of the country working in close partnership with the National Park Service.

Alliance of National Heritage Areas

Pennsylvania State Heritage Areas

Established in 1989, Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas Program is a national model with 12 state Heritage Areas operating in 57 of 67 counties throughout the Commonwealth. Five of the 12 areas are also designated as National Heritage Areas. Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas encompass almost every major historical site, population center, and tourist attraction that Pennsylvania has to offer. The Heritage Area Program is a comprehensive, multi-faceted regional strategic initiative to conserve and enhance key resources and promote a region’s heritage for tourism development.

Each Pennsylvania Heritage Area is managed separately and all are as unique as the history, resources and communities they work to preserve, enhance, and grow. Through partnerships (regional, businesses, communities, etc.) and grass-roots planning, historic, cultural, natural, scenic, and recreation resources are preserved and developed to strengthen regional economies with a goal of increasing tourism, creating new jobs, and developing investment opportunities.

Heritage PA