Community-Led Conservation and Development
National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Area entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.
In 1984, the first National Heritage Area, Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area, was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. In his dedication speech, Reagan referred to National Heritage Areas "a new kind of national park" that married heritage conservation, recreation, and economic development. As of 2023, 62 National Heritage Areas are designated.
The National Heritage Area brochure (NPS unigird) is a great way to learn more and easy to share.
Learn more about an active NPS feasibility study for Kentucky Wildlands.