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Calendar No. 366
110th Congress Report
1st Session 110-168
NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS PARTNERSHIP ACT
September 17, 2007.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 278]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 278) to establish a program and criteria
for National Heritage Areas in the United States, and for other
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon
with an amendent and recommends that the bill, as amended, do
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.
(a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``National Heritage
Areas Partnership Act''.
(b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Purposes.
Sec. 3. Definitions.
Sec. 4. National Heritage Areas system.
Sec. 5. Studies.
Sec. 6. Designation of National Heritage Areas.
Sec. 7. Management plans.
Sec. 8. Evaluation; report.
Sec. 9. Local coordinating entities.
Sec. 10. Relationship to other Federal agencies.
Sec. 11. Private property and regulatory protections.
Sec. 12. Partnership support.
Sec. 13. Authorization of appropriations.
SEC. 2. PURPOSES.
The purposes of this Act are--
(1) to promote public understanding, appreciation, and
enjoyment of many places, events and people that have
contributed to the story of the United States;
(2) to promote innovative and partnership-driven management
strategies that recognize regional values, encourage locally
tailored resource stewardship and interpretation, and provide
for the effective leveraging of Federal funds with other local,
State, and private funding sources;
(3) to unify national standards and processes for conducting
feasibility studies, designating a system of National Heritage
Areas, and approving management plans for National Heritage
(4) to provide appropriate linkages between units of the
National Park System and communities, governments, and
organizations within National Heritage Areas; and
(5) to provide financial and technical assistance to National
Heritage Area local coordinating entities that act as a
catalyst for diverse regions, communities, organizations, and
citizens to undertake projects and programs for collaborative
resource stewardship and interpretation.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) Local coordinating entity.--The term ``local coordinating
entity'' means the entity designated by Congress--
(A) to develop, in partnership with others, the
management plan for a National Heritage Area; and
(B) to act as a catalyst for the implementation of
projects and programs among diverse partners in the
National Heritage Area.
(2) Management plan.--The term ``management plan'' means the
plan prepared by the local coordinating entity for a National
Heritage Area designated by Congress that specifies actions,
policies, strategies, performance goals, and recommendations to
meet the goals of the National Heritage Area, in accordance
with section 7.
(3) National heritage area.--The term ``National Heritage
Area'' means an area designated by Congress that is nationally
important to the heritage of the United States and meets the
criteria established under section 5(a).
(4) National importance.--The term ``national importance''
means possession of--
(A) unique natural, historical, cultural,
educational, scenic, or recreational resources of
exceptional value or quality; and
(B) a high degree of integrity of location, setting,
or association in illustrating or interpreting the
heritage of the United States.
(5) Proposed national heritage area.--The term ``proposed
National Heritage Area'' means an area under study by the
Secretary or other parties for potential designation by
Congress as a National Heritage Area.
(6) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of
(7) Study.--The term ``study'' means a study conducted by the
Secretary, or conducted by 1 or more other interested parties
and reviewed by the Secretary, in accordance with the criteria
and processes established under section 5, to determine whether
an area meets the criteria to be designated as a National
Heritage Area by Congress.
(8) System.--The term ``system'' means the system of National
Heritage Areas established under section 4(a).
SEC. 4. NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS SYSTEM.
(a) In General.--In order to recognize certain areas of the United
States that tell nationally important stories and to protect, enhance,
and interpret the natural, historic, scenic, and cultural resources of
the areas that together illustrate significant aspects of the heritage
of the United States, there is established a system of National
Heritage Areas through which the Secretary shall provide technical and
financial assistance to local coordinating entities to support the
establishment, development, and continuity of the National Heritage
(b) System.--The system of National Heritage Areas shall be composed
(1) National Heritage Areas established by Congress before or
on the date of enactment of this Act; and
(2) National Heritage Areas established by Congress after the
date of enactment of this Act, as provided for in this Act.
(c) Relationship to the National Park System.--
(1) Relationship to national park units.--The Secretary
(A) ensure, to the maximum extent practicable,
participation and assistance by units of the National
Park System located near or encompassed by National
Heritage Areas in local initiatives for National
Heritage Areas that conserve and interpret resources
consistent with an approved management plan; and
(B) work with National Heritage Areas to promote
public enjoyment of units of the National Park System
and park-related resources.
(2) Applicability of laws.--National Heritage Areas shall not
(A) considered to be units of the National Park
(B) subject to the laws applicable to units of the
National Park System.
(d) Duties.--Under the system, the Secretary shall--
(1)(A) conduct studies, as directed by Congress, to assess
the suitability and feasibility of designating proposed
National Heritage Areas; or
(B) review and comment on studies undertaken by other parties
to make such assessment;
(2) provide technical and financial assistance, on a
reimbursable or non-reimbursable basis (as determined by the
Secretary), for the development and implementation of
management plans for designated National Heritage Areas;
(3) enter into cooperative agreements with interested parties
to carry out this Act;
(4) provide information, promote understanding, and encourage
research on National Heritage Areas in partnership with local
(5) provide national oversight, analysis, coordination, and
technical and financial assistance and support to ensure
consistency and accountability under the system;
(6) submit annually to the Committee on Natural Resources of
the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources of the Senate a report describing the
allocation and expenditure of funds for activities conducted
with respect to National Heritage Areas under this Act; and
(7) conduct an evaluation of, and prepare a report on,
National Heritage Areas in accordance with section 8.
SEC. 5. STUDIES.
(a) Criteria.--In conducting or reviewing a study, the Secretary
shall apply the following criteria to determine the suitability and
feasibility of designating a proposed National Heritage Area:
(1) An area--
(A) has an assemblage of natural, historic, cultural,
educational, scenic, or recreational resources that
together are nationally important to the heritage of
the United States;
(B) represents distinctive aspects of the heritage of
the United States worthy of recognition, conservation,
interpretation, and continuing use;
(C) is best managed as such an assemblage through
partnerships among public and private entities at the
local or regional level;
(D) reflects traditions, customs, beliefs, and
folklife that are a valuable part of the heritage of
the United States;
(E) provides outstanding opportunities to conserve
natural, historical, cultural, or scenic features;
(F) provides outstanding recreational or educational
(G) has resources and traditional uses that have
(2) Residents, business interests, nonprofit organizations,
and governments (including relevant Federal land management
agencies) within the proposed area are involved in the planning
and have demonstrated significant support through letters and
other means for National Heritage Area designation and
(3) The local coordinating entity responsible for preparing
and implementing the management plan is identified.
(4) The proposed local coordinating entity and units of
government supporting the designation are willing and have
documented a significant commitment to work in partnership to
protect, enhance, interpret, fund, manage, and develop
resources within the National Heritage Area.
(5) The proposed local coordinating entity has developed a
conceptual financial plan that outlines the roles of all
participants (including the Federal Government) in the
management of the National Heritage Area.
(6) The proposal is consistent with continued economic
activity within the area.
(7) A conceptual boundary map has been developed and is
supported by the public and participating Federal agencies.
(b) Consultation.--In conducting or reviewing a study, the Secretary
shall consult with the managers of any Federal land within the proposed
National Heritage Area and secure the concurrence of the managers with
the findings of the study before making a determination for
(c) Approval.--On completion or receipt of a study for a National
Heritage Area, the Secretary shall--
(1) review, comment on, and determine if the study meets the
criteria specified in subsection (a) for designation as a
National Heritage Area;
(2) consult with the Governor of each State in which the
proposed National Heritage Area is located; and
(3) transmit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the
House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and
Natural Resources of the Senate, the study, including--
(A) any comments received from the Governor of each
State in which the proposed National Heritage Area is
(B) a finding as to whether the proposed National
Heritage Area meets the criteria for designation.
(d) Disapproval.--If the Secretary determines that any proposed
National Heritage Area does not meet the criteria for designation, the
Secretary shall include within the study submitted under subsection
(c)(3) a description of the reasons for the determination.
SEC. 6. DESIGNATION OF NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS.
(a) In General.--The designation of a National Heritage Area shall
(1) by Act of Congress; and
(2) contingent on the prior completion of a study and an
affirmative determination by the Secretary that the area meets
the criteria established under section 5(a).
(b) Component of the System.--Any National Heritage Area designated
under subsection (a) shall be a component of the system.
SEC. 7. MANAGEMENT PLANS.
(a) Requirements.--The management plan for any National Heritage Area
(1) describe comprehensive policies, goals, strategies, and
recommendations for telling the story of the heritage of the
area covered by the National Heritage Area and encouraging
long-term resource protection, enhancement, interpretation,
funding, management, and development of the National Heritage
(2) include a description of actions and commitments that
governments, private organizations, and citizens will take to
protect, enhance, interpret, fund, manage, and develop the
natural, historical, cultural, educational, scenic, and
recreational resources of the National Heritage Area;
(3) specify existing and potential sources of funding or
economic development strategies to protect, enhance, interpret,
fund, manage, and develop the National Heritage Area;
(4) include an inventory of the natural, historical,
cultural, educational, scenic, and recreational resources of
the National Heritage Area related to the national importance
and themes of the National Heritage Area that should be
protected, enhanced, interpreted, managed, funded, and
(5) recommend policies and strategies for resource
management, including the development of intergovernmental and
interagency agreements to protect, enhance, interpret, fund,
manage, and develop the natural, historical, cultural,
educational, scenic, and recreational resources of the National
(6) describe a program for implementation for the management
(A) performance goals;
(B) plans for resource protection, enhancement,
interpretation, funding, management, and development;
(C) specific commitments for implementation that have
been made by the local coordinating entity or any
government agency, organization, business, or
(7) include an analysis of, and recommendations for, means by
which Federal, State, and local programs may best be
coordinated (including the role of the National Park Service
and other Federal agencies associated with the National
Heritage Area) to further the purposes of this Act; and
(8) include a business plan that--
(A) describes the role, operation, financing, and
functions of the local coordinating entity and of each
of the major activities contained in the management
(B) provides adequate assurances that the local
coordinating entity has the partnerships and financial
and other resources necessary to implement the
management plan for the National Heritage Area.
(1) In general.--Not later than 3 years after the date on
which funds are first made available to develop the management
plan after designation as a National Heritage Area, the local
coordinating entity shall submit the management plan to the
Secretary for approval.
(2) Termination of funding.--If the management plan is not
submitted to the Secretary in accordance with paragraph (1),
the local coordinating entity shall not qualify for any
additional financial assistance under this Act until such time
as the management plan is submitted to and approved by the
(c) Approval of Management Plan.--
(1) Review.--Not later than 180 days after receiving the
plan, the Secretary shall review and approve or disapprove the
management plan for a National Heritage Area on the basis of
the criteria established under paragraph (3).
(2) Consultation.--The Secretary shall consult with the
Governor of each State in which the National Heritage Area is
located before approving a management plan for the National
(3) Criteria for approval.--In determining whether to approve
a management plan for a National Heritage Area, the Secretary
shall consider whether--
(A) the local coordinating entity represents the
diverse interests of the National Heritage Area,
including governments, natural and historic resource
protection organizations, educational institutions,
businesses, recreational organizations, community
residents, and private property owners;
(B) the local coordinating entity--
(i) has afforded adequate opportunity for
public and governmental involvement (including
through workshops and hearings) in the
preparation of the management plan; and
(ii) provides for at least semiannual public
meetings to ensure adequate implementation of
the management plan;
(C) the resource protection, enhancement,
interpretation, funding, management, and development
strategies described in the management plan, if
implemented, would adequately protect, enhance,
interpret, fund, manage, and develop the natural,
historic, cultural, educational, scenic, and
recreational resources of the National Heritage Area;
(D) the management plan would not adversely affect
any activities authorized on Federal land under public
land laws or land use plans;
(E) the local coordinating entity has demonstrated
the financial capability, in partnership with others,
to carry out the plan;
(F) the Secretary has received adequate assurances
from the appropriate State and local officials whose
support is needed to ensure the effective
implementation of the State and local elements of the
management plan; and
(G) the management plan demonstrates partnerships
among the local coordinating entity, Federal, State,
and local governments, regional planning organizations,
nonprofit organizations, or private sector parties for
implementation of the management plan.
(A) In general.--If the Secretary disapproves the
management plan, the Secretary--
(i) shall advise the local coordinating
entity in writing of the reasons for the
(ii) may make recommendations to the local
coordinating entity for revisions to the
(B) Deadline.--Not later than 180 days after
receiving a revised management plan, the Secretary
shall approve or disapprove the revised management
(A) In general.--An amendment to the management plan
that substantially alters the purposes of the National
Heritage Area shall be reviewed by the Secretary and
approved or disapproved in the same manner as the
original management plan.
(B) Implementation.--The local coordinating entity
shall not use Federal funds authorized by this Act to
implement an amendment to the management plan until the
Secretary approves the amendment.
SEC. 8. EVALUATION; REPORT.
(a) In General.--Not later than 3 years before the date on which
authority for Federal funding terminates for a National Heritage Area
under section 13(b)(2), the Secretary shall--
(1) conduct an evaluation of the accomplishments of the
National Heritage Area; and
(2) prepare a report in accordance with subsection (c).
(b) Evaluation.--An evaluation conducted under subsection (a)(1)
(1) assess the progress of the local coordinating entity with
(A) accomplishing the purposes of the authorizing
legislation for the National Heritage Area; and
(B) achieving the goals and objectives of the
approved management plan for the National Heritage
(2) analyze the Federal, State, local, and private
investments in the National Heritage Area to determine the
leverage and impact of the investments; and
(3) review the management structure, partnership
relationships, and funding of the National Heritage Area for
purposes of identifying the critical components for
sustainability of the National Heritage Area.
(1) In general.--Based on the evaluation conducted under
subsection (a)(1), the Secretary shall prepare a report that
includes recommendations for the future role of the National
Park Service, if any, with respect to the National Heritage
(2) Required analysis.--If the report prepared under
paragraph (1) recommends that Federal funding for the National
Heritage Area be reauthorized, the report shall include an
(A) ways in which Federal funding for the National
Heritage Area may be reduced or eliminated; and
(B) the appropriate time period necessary to achieve
the recommended reduction or elimination.
(3) Submission to congress.--On completion of the report, the
Secretary shall submit the report to--
(A) the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of
the Senate; and
(B) the Committee on Natural Resources of the House
SEC. 9. LOCAL COORDINATING ENTITIES.
(a) Duties.--To further the purposes of the National Heritage Area,
the local coordinating entity shall--
(1) prepare a management plan for the National Heritage Area,
and submit the management plan to the Secretary, in accordance
with section 7;
(2) submit an annual report to the Secretary for each fiscal
year for which the local coordinating entity receives Federal
funds under this Act, specifying--
(A) the specific performance goals and
accomplishments of the local coordinating entity;
(B) the expenses and income of the local coordinating
(C) the amounts and sources of matching funds;
(D) the amounts leveraged with Federal funds and
sources of the leveraging; and
(E) grants made to any other entities during the
(3) make available for audit for each fiscal year for which
the local coordinating entity receives Federal funds under this
Act, all information pertaining to the expenditure of the funds
and any matching funds; and
(4) encourage economic viability and sustainability that is
consistent with the purposes of the National Heritage Area.
(b) Authorities.--For the purposes of preparing and implementing the
approved management plan for the National Heritage Area, the local
coordinating entity may use Federal funds made available under this Act
(1) make grants to political jurisdictions, nonprofit
organizations, and other parties within the National Heritage
(2) enter into cooperative agreements with or provide
technical assistance to political jurisdictions, nonprofit
organizations, Federal agencies, and other interested parties;
(3) hire and compensate staff, including individuals with
(A) natural, historical, cultural, educational,
scenic, and recreational resource conservation;
(B) economic and community development; and
(C) heritage planning;
(4) obtain funds or services from any source, including other
Federal laws or programs;
(5) contract for goods or services; and
(6) support activities of partners and any other activities
that further the purposes of the National Heritage Area and are
consistent with the approved management plan.
(c) Prohibition on Acquisition of Real Property.--The local
coordinating entity may not use Federal funds authorized under this Act
to acquire any interest in real property.
SEC. 10. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES.
(a) In General.--Nothing in this Act affects the authority of a
Federal agency to provide technical or financial assistance under any
(b) Consultation and Coordination.--The head of any Federal agency
planning to conduct activities that may have an impact on a National
Heritage Area is encouraged to consult and coordinate the activities
with the Secretary and the local coordinating entity to the maximum
(c) Other Federal Agencies.--Nothing in this Act--
(1) modifies, alters, or amends any law or regulation
authorizing a Federal agency to manage Federal land under the
jurisdiction of the Federal agency;
(2) limits the discretion of a Federal land manager to
implement an approved land use plan within the boundaries of a
National Heritage Area; or
(3) modifies, alters, or amends any authorized use of Federal
land under the jurisdiction of a Federal agency.
SEC. 11. PRIVATE PROPERTY AND REGULATORY PROTECTIONS.
Nothing in this Act--
(1) abridges the rights of any property owner (whether public
or private), including the right to refrain from participating
in any plan, project, program, or activity conducted within the
National Heritage Area;
(2) requires any property owner to permit public access
(including access by Federal, State, or local agencies) to the
property of the property owner, or to modify public access or
use of property of the property owner under any other Federal,
State, or local law;
(3) alters any duly adopted land use regulation, approved
land use plan, or other regulatory authority of any Federal,
State or local agency, or conveys any land use or other
regulatory authority to any local coordinating entity;
(4) authorizes or implies the reservation or appropriation of
water or water rights;
(5) diminishes the authority of the State to manage fish and
wildlife, including the regulation of fishing and hunting
within the National Heritage Area; or
(6) creates any liability, or affects any liability under any
other law, of any private property owner with respect to any
person injured on the private property.
SEC. 12. PARTNERSHIP SUPPORT.
(a) Technical Assistance.--On termination of the 15-year period for
which assistance is provided under section 13, the Secretary may, on
request of a local coordinating entity, continue to provide technical
assistance to a National Heritage Area under section 4.
(b) Grant Assistance.--
(1) In general.--The Secretary may establish a grant program
under which the Secretary provides grants, on a competitive
basis, to local coordinating entities for the conduct of
individual projects at National Heritage Areas for which
financial assistance has terminated under section 13.
(2) Conditions.--The provision of a grant under paragraph (1)
shall be subject to the condition that--
(A) a project must be approved by the local
coordinating entity as promoting the purposes of the
management plan required under section 7;
(B) a project may receive only 1 grant of no more
than $250,000 in any 1 fiscal year;
(C) a maximum of $250,000 may be received by a local
coordinating entity for projects funded under this
subsection in any 1 fiscal year; and
(D) a project shall not be eligible for funding under
this section in any fiscal year that a local
coordinating entity receives an appropriation through
the National Park Service (excluding technical
assistance) for the National Heritage Area at which the
project is being conducted.
(c) Report.--For each fiscal year in which assistance is provided
under this section, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on
Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on
Appropriations of the Senate a list of the projects provided assistance
for the fiscal year.
SEC. 13. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) Studies.--There is authorized to be appropriated to conduct and
review studies under section 5 $750,000 for each fiscal year, of which
not more than $250,000 for any fiscal year may be used for any
individual study for a proposed National Heritage Area.
(b) Local Coordinating Entities.--
(1) In general.--There is authorized to be appropriated to
carry out section 9 $25,000,000 for each fiscal year, of which
not more than--
(A) $1,000,000 may be made available for any fiscal
year for any individual National Heritage Area, to
remain available until expended; and
(B) a total of $10,000,000 may be made available for
all such fiscal years for any individual National
(2) Termination date.--
(A) In general.--The authority of the Secretary to
provide financial assistance to an individual local
coordinating entity under this section (excluding
technical assistance and administrative oversight)
shall terminate on the date that is 15 years after the
date of the initial receipt of the assistance by the
local coordinating entity.
(B) Designation.--A National Heritage Area shall
retain the designation as a National Heritage Area
after the termination date prescribed in subparagraph
(3) Administration.--Not more than 5 percent of the amount of
funds made available under paragraph (1) for a fiscal year may
be used by the Secretary for technical assistance, oversight,
and administrative purposes.
(c) Heritage Partnership Grant Assistance.--There is authorized to be
appropriated to the Secretary to carry out section 12 $5,000,000 for
each fiscal year.
(d) Matching Funds.--
(1) In general.--As a condition of receiving a grant under
this Act, the recipient of the grant shall provide matching
funds in an amount that is equal to the amount of the grant.
(2) Administration.--The recipient matching funds--
(A) shall be derived from non-Federal sources; and
(B) may be made in the form of in-kind contributions
of goods or services fairly valued.
The purpose of S. 278 is to establish a program and
criteria for National Heritage Areas.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
National Heritage Areas are established to commemorate,
conserve and economically promote important areas that include
natural, scenic, historic, cultural or recreational resources.
Unlike areas that are under the sole jurisdiction of the
National Park Service (NPS), such as parks or monuments,
heritage areas typically remain in non-Federal ownership and
are managed by local communities and partners. To date,
Congress has designated 37 National Heritage Areas, including
ten new areas that were designated in the 109th Congress.
National Heritage Areas receive financial and technical
assistance through cooperative agreements with the National
Park Service. They also receive funds from other agencies and
Most heritage areas are authorized to receive
appropriations of up to $1 million each year, with a maximum
total appropriation of $10 to $15 million. Generally, the
authorizing legislation for each heritage area includes a
requirement that Federal funds must be matched equally by non-
Federal funds. For fiscal years 1997 through 2002, national
heritage areas received $310 million in funding. Of this total,
approximately $154 million came from state and local
governments and private sources and $156 million came from the
Currently the National Park Service has no systematic
process for identifying or evaluating potential heritage areas
and no formal program for managing them. The success of
previously designated areas and the opportunity for Federal
funding has resulted in an increase in proposals for new
heritage areas, with more than two dozen national heritage area
proposals currently pending in the 110th Congress. The sizable
number of new proposals before Congress has raised some concern
regarding the most effective means to manage the program in the
In 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)
published a report that examined national heritage areas and
suggested ways to improve their accountability (GAO04-593T,
March 30, 2004). To ensure that only nationally significant
resources be designated as national heritage areas, the GAO
recommended that standardized criteria be adopted for
evaluating potential new areas. The GAO report also suggests,
given the magnitude of funds appropriated, that certain key
management controls be instituted to ensure accountability and
In 2006, the National Park System Advisory Board released a
report entitled ``Charting a Future for National Heritage
Areas.'' The report found that ``[w]hile existing [national
heritage area] designations often share similar strategies, no
legislative foundation ensures a standard approach to how new
areas should be studied, designated, administered, and funded.
A formal policy framework is needed to clarify the roles and
responsibilities of partners in these efforts. The framework
should specify criteria and standards for studying and
establishing new areas, uniform timeframes, and funding and
management strategies to accomplish the work.''
Consistent with the recommendations of these two reports,
S. 278 would establish program requirements and criteria for
evaluating national heritage areas, as well as place
limitations on cumulative Federal funding for the program.
S. 278 was introduced by Senator Thomas on January 12,
2007. Because the bill is similar to legislation reported by
the Committee in previous Congresses, the Committee did not
hold a hearing on S. 278.
The Committee considered similar legislation in the 109th
Congress, S. 243, also sponsored by Senator Thomas. The
Committee ordered S. 243 favorably reported on February 9, 2005
(S. Rept. 109-26), and the bill passed the Senate by unanimous
consent, with amendments, on July 25, 2005. No further action
occurred in the House of Representatives.
In the 108th Congress, Senators Thomas and Burns introduced
a similar measure, S. 2543. The Subcommittee on National Parks
held a hearing on that bill on June 24, 2004 (S. Hrg. 108-692).
S. 2543 was favorably reported by the Committee with an
amendment in the nature of a substitute on July 14, 2004 (S.
Rept. 108-329), and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on
September 15, 2004. No further action occurred in the House of
At its business meeting on July 25, 2007, the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 278 favorably reported
with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on July 25, 2007, by a voice vote of a quorum
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 278, if amended as
During its consideration of S. 278, the Committee adopted
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. In addition to
making several clarifying and conforming changes, the amendment
adds a requirement that the Secretary of the Interior conduct
an evaluation of each authorized heritage area not later than
three years before the date authority for Federal funding
terminates, to assess the progress of the management entity in
accomplishing the purposes for which the heritage area was
established and whether the goals and objectives of the
management plan for the heritage area were achieved. The
Secretary is required to submit a report of the findings of the
evaluation to the Congressional authorizing Committees.
The amendment is explained in detail in the section-by-
section analysis, below.
Section 1(a) entitles the Act the ``National Heritage
Subsection (b) contains the table of contents.
Section 2 lists the purposes of the Act.
Section 3 contains definitions of key terms used in the
Section 4(a) establishes a system of National Heritage
Areas in order to recognize certain areas of the United States
that tell nationally important stories and to protect, enhance,
and interpret the natural, historic, scenic, and cultural
resources of the areas that together illustrate significant
aspects of the heritage of the United States.
Subsection (b) provides that the National Heritage Areas
System shall be composed of national heritage areas established
by Congress on or before the date of enactment of this Act, and
national heritage areas established by Congress after the date
of enactment of this Act.
Subsection (c) describes the relationship of national
heritage areas to the National Park System. The Secretary of
the Interior is directed to ensure, to the maximum extent
practicable, that units of the National Park System that are
near designated national heritage areas, participate in and
assist local initiatives related to the heritage area that
conserve and interpret resources consistent with an approved
management plan, and work with heritage areas to promote public
enjoyment of the park and park-related resources. The
subsection makes clear that national heritage areas are not
units of the National Park System and are not subject to the
laws applicable to units of the National Park System (although
a National Park System unit located within the boundaries of a
national heritage area would continue to be managed in
accordance with National Park System laws).
Subsection (d) describes the duties of the Secretary under
Section 5(a) lists the criteria to be used by the Secretary
to determine the feasibility and suitability of a proposed
Subsection (b) requires the Secretary, in conducting or
reviewing a study, to consult with managers of Federal land
within the proposed heritage area and secure the concurrence of
the managers before making a determination for designation.
Subsection (c) describes the process by which the Secretary
approves a suitability and feasibility study.
Subsection (d) provides that if the Secretary determines
that a proposed national heritage area does not meet the
criteria for designation, the Secretary shall include the
reasons for disapproval when the study is transmitted to
Section 6 provides that designation of a national heritage
area shall only be by an Act of Congress and contingent upon
the prior completion of a suitability and feasibility study
with an affirmative determination by the Secretary that the
area meets the criteria for designation. Any designated
national heritage area shall be a component of the National
Heritage Areas System.
Section 7(a) describes the requirements for a heritage
area's management plan.
Subsection (b) requires the management entity to submit a
management plan to the Secretary within three years after the
date funds are made available for the plan. If the plan is not
submitted on time, Federal funding for the heritage area is
stopped until the plan is submitted.
Subsection (c) describes the process by which the Secretary
approves or disapproves a management plan, and lists the
criteria for approval.
Section 8(a) requires the Secretary to conduct an
evaluation of the accomplishments of each national heritage
area not later than three years before the date Federal funding
authority for the area terminates.
Subsection (b) provides that the evaluation shall assess
the progress of the local coordinating entity with respect to
accomplishing the purposes of this Act for the heritage area
and whether the local coordinating entity achieved the goals
and objectives of the approved management plan for the heritage
area. The evaluation is also required to analyze governmental
investments in the heritage area to determine the leverage and
impact of the investments.
Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to prepare a report,
based on the evaluation, that includes recommendations for the
future role of the National Park Service, if any, for the
heritage area. If the report recommends that Federal funding
for the area be reauthorized, it is required to include an
analysis of ways Federal funding may be reduced or eliminated.
The report is to be submitted to the House and Senate
Section 9(a) describes the duties and responsibilities of
the local coordinating entity for a heritage area.
Subsection (b) authorizes the local coordinating entity,
for the purposes of preparing and implementing an approved
management plan for the heritage area, to make grants, enter
into cooperative agreements with governmental entities, non-
profit organizations, and other interested persons, hire staff,
obtain funds or services from any source, contract for goods or
services, and support activities of partner groups.
Subsection (c) states that a local coordinating entity may
not use Federal funds to acquire real property or an interest
in real property.
Section 10 states that nothing in this Act affects the
authority of a Federal agency to provide technical or financial
assistance to a national heritage area. Other Federal agencies
are encouraged to consult with the Secretary on issues
concerning the heritage area to the extent practicable. Nothing
in this Act limits, modifies, alters or amends any authorized
use of Federal land.
Section 11 contains several savings provisions to clarify
that the designation of the national heritage area will not
affect private property rights, affect governmental land use
regulation, reserve or appropriate water rights, diminish the
authority of the State to manage fish and wildlife, or create
any liability for property owners within the heritage area.
Section 12 authorizes the Secretary to provide a grant to
the local coordinating entity after termination of the 15-year
Federal funding period. Grants would be awarded on a
competitive basis and could not exceed $250,000 for any local
coordinating entity in a single year. The Secretary is required
to submit a report to Congress for each year that grant
assistance is provided.
Section 13(a) authorizes the appropriation of $750,000 for
each fiscal year to conduct and review feasibility studies for
potential heritage areas. Not more than $250,000 is authorized
for any individual study for any given fiscal year.
Subsection (b) caps total annual authorizations for
national heritage areas at $25 million. Not more than
$1,000,000 annually could be appropriated for any individual
heritage area. A total appropriation of $10 million may be made
for an individual heritage area over all fiscal years. The
Secretary's authority to provide technical and financial
assistance to each heritage area is limited to 15 years, but
the area is authorized to retain the designation of National
Heritage Area after Federal funding has terminated. Not more
than five percent of appropriated funds may be used for
technical assistance, oversight, and administrative purposes.
Subsection (c) authorizes $5 million annually for the
competitive grant program described in section 12.
Subsection (d) requires the recipient of any grant made
under this Act to provide, through non-Federal sources, an
amount equal to the Federal grant. The non-Federal contribution
may include in-kind contributions of goods and services.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
August 2, 2007.
Hon. Jeff Bingaman,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 278, the National
Heritage Areas Partnership Act.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Leigh Angres.
Peter R. Orszag.
S. 278--National Heritage Areas Partnership Act
S. 278 would provide a framework for establishing new
national heritage areas (NHAs); however, none of the activities
that would be governed by the bill could be carried out without
further authorizing legislation. Congressional action would be
required to authorize both the first step in the process to
establish a national heritage area, a feasibility study, and
the final step, a formal NHA designation. As a result, CBO
estimates that enacting S. 278--by itself--would have no effect
on the federal budget.
This legislation contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal
Under the bill, once a feasibility study of a potential NHA
has been authorized by the Congress, the National Park System
would either conduct the study itself or allow one to be
undertaken by an interested local entity. Completed and
assessed studies would then be submitted to the Congress. If
legislation to designate the NHA is enacted and funds are made
available, the chosen local coordinating entity for the area
would have three years to submit a general management plan to
the Secretary of the Interior for approval. Under the bill,
once an NHA is created, the Secretary of the Interior must
submit a report to the Congress evaluating the NHA and assess
the progress of the local coordinating entity in meeting the
goals of the management plan.
The bill would set a ceiling for future specific
authorizations of appropriations of $750,000 a year for NHA
feasibility studies (no more than $250,000 annually could be
used for any individual NHA study). It would also limit--to $25
million annually--future authorizations for financial and
technical assistance to local coordinating entities; no more
than $1 million could be used for any individual NHA. Such
funds (up to $10 million per NHA over a 15-year period) would
be used to develop and implement management plans and
administer a national heritage area.
The Secretary could award grants for individual projects at
NHAs when funding to local coordinating entities has been
terminated 15 years after the initial receipt of financial
assistance. In such an instance, a local coordinating entity
could receive a maximum of $250,000 for all projects in any
fiscal year and would be required to provide matching funds
equal to the amount of the grant. The bill would establish a
ceiling for such grants of $5 million for each fiscal year.
Because the authority to appropriate funds under S. 278
would depend on subsequent acts of the Congress to authorize
feasibility studies and designate specific new NHAs, CBO
estimates that enacting this legislation alone would have no
effect on the federal budget.
The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Deborah Reis
and Leigh Angres. The estimate was approved by Peter H.
Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 278. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 278, as ordered reported.
Because S. 278 is similar to legislation considered during
the 109th and 108th Congresses, the Committee did not request
Executive Agency views on S. 278. The testimony provided by the
Department of the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing on S.
2543 in the 108th Congress follows:
Statement of A. Durand Jones, Deputy Director, National Park Service,
Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, it is my
pleasure to appear before you today to testify on behalf of the
Department of the Interior on S. 2543, the National Heritage
Partnership Act. The Department strongly supports this bill,
but has a few concerns about some of the provisions.
The Department strongly supports legislation to establish a
national heritage areas program. We would like to thank
Chairman Thomas for his leadership over the last year in
evaluating programmatic issues, identifying areas for
legislative action, and introducing this bill based on the
Administration's legislative proposal. This legislation was
developed through a yearlong process of Congressional oversight
hearings, outside evaluations of the program (such as the March
2004 report by the General Accounting Office) and meetings
among many of the groups interested in this issue.
S. 2543 provides a much-needed framework for evaluating
proposed national heritage area designations, offers guidelines
for successful planning, clarifies the roles and
responsibilities of all parties, and standardizes timeframes
and funding for designated areas.
The Department supports the national heritage areas
approach to resource conservation through partnerships with
communities. National heritage areas are intended to preserve
nationally important natural, cultural, historic, and
recreational resources through the creation of partnerships
among Federal, State and local entities. National heritage
areas are locally driven, initiated and managed by the people
who live there and do not impose Federal zoning, land use
controls nor do they require land acquisition. At its best, the
collaborative approach of this program embodies Secretary of
the Interior Gale Norton's ``Four Cs''--Communication,
Consultation and Cooperation, all in the service of
S. 2543 supports a conservation strategy that recognizes
that the people who live in a heritage area are uniquely
qualified to preserve it. Being designated as a national
heritage area can benefit visitors, community residents,
existing National Park units located in the area, and other
Federal lands by expanding the opportunity to interpret and
protect resources over a larger landscape and by telling our
shared national story.
There are three provisions in S. 2543 that we wish to
discuss in more detail and to offer suggestions for
criteria for evaluation
The standards for evaluating areas proposed for national
designation are an essential element in establishing a national
heritage areas program. While many places in this nation have
special meaning to the people that live there, for many places
designation as a State or local heritage area may be most
appropriate. The National Park Service should be the lead
partner only when the resources within a proposed heritage area
are of national importance.
The Department has some concerns about the use of the term
``national significance'' and the definition provided in S.
2543. We recommend replacing the term ``national significance''
with the term ``national importance'' to avoid confusion. The
National Park Service specifically uses the term ``national
significance'' in suitability and feasibility studies for new
National Park System units. For this reason, the term
``national importance'' has been informally used by the
National Park Service to describe the assessment of national
heritage area resources.
In addition, having a concise, appropriate, and practical
definition for ``national significance'' or ``national
importance'' is critical. We would suggest a revised definition
as applied in practice to existing and proposed national
The term ``National Importance'' is ascribed to a
proposed heritage area that illustrates major historic,
cultural, natural or social themes important to the
history of the United States and contains resources
that are outstanding examples of natural and cultural
features that contribute to the theme, and which
possess a high degree of integrity, and are compatible
with continued community development, public enjoyment,
The Department believes that a study should be required for
every proposed national heritage area and the study should be
evaluated against legislatively established criteria before
designation. S. 2543 requires that such a study be prepared
that demonstrates evidence of place-based resources that tell a
nationally significant story, which has the support and
involvement of the local community. This requirement has been
field-tested and has been shown to increase the future success
of the heritage area.
The Department recommends a modification to the terminology
used for studies. In order to be consistent with terminology
used in past study and designation bills for national heritage
areas, we recommend that the studies be called ``feasibility
studies'' instead of ``suitability/feasibility studies.'' This
would also lessen any confusion with studies for new units of
the National Park System that are called suitability and
feasibility studies. We recommend that this change in
terminology be used throughout the bill when referring to these
funding and timeframes
When the first national heritage corridors were designated
twenty years ago, a Federal commission provided management for
the areas and the National Park Service provided most of the
staff. The national heritage corridor or area was conceived as
a less expensive alternative to the acquisition and operation
costs of creating a new unit of the National Park System. These
areas were originally authorized for five years with a five-
year extension; over time, the corridors have been reauthorized
for additional periods.
For the 18 national heritage areas established after 1995,
the National Park Service encouraged management with greater
involvement by local entities as a more cost-effective use of
Federal resources. Most of these newer areas are managed by a
non-profit entity or a State government and include a funding
formula of not more than $10 million Federal dollars over a
fifteen-year period. Our legislative proposal recommends
codifying this approach and for the first time requires that a
business plan be developed as part of the management planning
for proposed new areas. This would ensure that from the
beginning, national heritage areas are working towards and have
an established plan for self-sufficiency. So far, no existing
area has ``graduated'' from the program, even after 20 years
and in some cases, and nearly $100 million invested overall.
For this reason, we recognize the need to work with existing
areas to assist them in a transition strategy as they reach the
end of their funding authorization. As areas become self-
sufficient, available resources could be reallocated to newly
designated areas or other priorities.
The Department is concerned with the new provision in
section 9 of S. 2543 that caps the heritage areas program at
$15 million per year. The Administration did not propose a cap
on the program because we believe it is more appropriate to cap
the amount of appropriations each area is authorized to
receive, and to limit the authorized period for appropriations.
Currently, there are 15 new national heritage areas pending for
designation in Congress. In addition, there are 24 designated
national heritage areas, many of which are authorized to
receive appropriations of $1 million per year. However, we
would expect to allocate funding among these areas within the
levels of funds appropriated, which might require providing
less than the individual authorized ceilings in some instances.
Recent studies and our own experiences have shown that the
national heritage area approach links people and place, nature
and culture, and the present with the past. National heritage
areas capitalize on the unique role local communities play in
preserving their heritage and telling their stories. S. 2543
respects these principles. It assigns the appropriate roles and
responsibilities to the key partners that must work together to
make the program successful. It also recognizes the need to
target our assistance to those areas where there is a national
interest and where the local partners meet established criteria
for success. We look forward to working with the committee to
enact this important legislation.
This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be pleased to
answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 278, as ordered