National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by the Congress of the United States and intended to encourage historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the site. A National Heritage Corridor is a place where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation's diverse heritage. NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects.
A National Heritage Area is neither a National Park nor any type of federally owned or managed land. National Heritage Areas are administered by state governments or non-profit organizations or other private corporations. The National Park Service provides an advisory role and limited technical, planning and financial assistance.
The heritage area concept offers an innovative method for citizens, in partnership with local, state, and Federal government, and nonprofit and private sector interests, to shape the long-term future of their communities. The partnership approach creates the opportunity for a diverse range of constituents to come together to voice a range of visions and perspectives. Partners collaborate to shape a plan and implement a strategy that focuses on the distinct qualities that make their region special.
The Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program was created in 1989 and relies on regional partnerships and public grassroots planning strategies to identify, protect, enhance and promote historic, recreational, natural, and scenic resources. The program is aimed at strengthening regional economies through increased tourism, creation of new jobs and stimulation of public and private partnerships for new investment opportunities.
The Ohio River Trail Council supports both the National and Pennsylvania Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.