Warner, Kaine, Wittman Applaud Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Protect the Northern Neck, Generate Economic Activity – Press Releases
WASHINGTON — Today U.S. Reapers Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) welcomed the passing of their legislation to conserve invaluable local resources and encourage economic activity in the Northern Neck. By officially designating the region as a National Heritage Area (NHA), the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Act will provide important federal dollars, encourage public-private partnerships and designate a special agency – the Northern Neck Tourism Commission – to protect the Northern Neck’s natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources. After unanimous passage by the Senate, the House of Representatives today voted to pass the bill, which will now go to President Biden for signature.
NPS defines National Heritage Areas as congressional-designated locations where “natural, cultural and historical resources combine to create a coherent landscape of national importance.” Through their resources, NHAs convey “nationally important stories” that celebrate the nation’s diverse heritage. Under this legislation, the NHA designation would apply to and span the land between the Potomac River and the Rappahannock River King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties.
“The Northern Neck is a national treasure and a source of immense pride, history and economic development for the Commonwealth,” said Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Wittman. “We are proud to have worked together on this successful bipartisan effort to highlight the natural beauty of the Northern Neck and use federal dollars to foster long-term economic opportunities in the region.”
The legislation follows the completion of the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study, which concluded that the Northern Neck’s themes, local traditions and natural and historical resources retain “sufficient integrity and opportunities for public engagement” to warrant an NHA -Eligible for expulsion.
This legislation would also provide federal funds to the region and authorize the Northern Neck Tourism Commission to implement an area management plan by:
- protection and restoration of relevant historical sites and buildings;
- Conducting programs and projects to recognize, protect and enhance important resources;
- Development of leisure and educational opportunities in the region;
- Creation and maintenance of interpretive exhibitions and programs;
- Fostering a wide range of partnerships among federal, state, tribal and local governments, organizations and individuals;
- increasing public awareness and appreciation of natural, historical, scenic and cultural resources in the region; and
- Ensure that clear, consistent, and appropriate signage is posted throughout the area identifying public access points and breeding animals of interest.
“The Northern Neck has worked together to achieve National Heritage Area Designation for over 20 years. With the naming, the Northern Neck region will have a greater voice in sharing its stories that help understand our nation’s early origins. The National Heritage Area Designation recognizes the region for the special place it has historically, culturally and for its natural resources. It is in line with the region’s tourism strategy as an important engine for economic development in this rural area,” said Jerry W. Davis, AICP, executive director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission.
Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine and Rep. Wittman have long campaigned for the designation of the Northern Neck as a National Heritage Site. Lawmakers previously wrote a letter urging an update from the National Park Service on the area’s feasibility study after apparent delays in its release.