National Heritage Area Act, Two More Natural Resources Bills Pass House, Await President Biden’s Signature

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed the National Heritage Act (S. 1942) by a bipartisan vote of 326-95. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) introduced and championed the House version of the bill (H.R. 1316), which passed the House as an amendment to the bipartisan Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act last year.

The National Heritage Area Act will establish a National Heritage Areas System to standardize the process for studying and establishing new National Heritage Areas. The bill will also reduce bureaucratic complexity and uncertainty by ending the current piecemeal reauthorization process for National Heritage Areas by establishing a single 15-year authorization.

On House passage of the National Heritage Area Act, Chair Grijalva said, “This country’s National Heritage Areas are more than just historical markers—they celebrate the stories and contributions of diverse communities to help us tell a more complete American history. I’m grateful to Congressman Tonko for his tireless work on this legislation and to all of the members who championed new heritage areas that were added to the bill, including my friend, the late Congressman McEachin. I look forward to seeing this bill become law soon.”

As amended by the Senate, the House-passed National Heritage Area Act includes several provisions to designate and study new National Heritage Areas, many of which previously passed the House with bipartisan support:

  • H.R. 670 (Rush) – Bronzeville-Black Metropolis Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 1154 (McEachin) – Great Dismal Swamp National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 1286 (Clyburn) – Southern Campaign of the Revolution National Heritage Corridor Act
  • H.R. 1908 (Case) – Ka’ena Point National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 2024 (Hoyer) – Southern Maryland National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 2899 (San Nicolas) – To direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating areas within the island of Guam as a National Heritage Area, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 3222 (Sewell) – Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 4167 (Wittman) – Northern Neck National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 1424 (Plaskett) – Saint Croix National Heritage Area Act
  • H.R. 7268 (Golden) – Downeast Maine National Heritage Area Act

The House also passed two other Natural Resources bills by voice vote today: 

  • S. 3519 (Boozman) – Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail Designation Act, to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail, and for other purposes.
  • S. 4439 (Padilla) – Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act, to take certain Federal land located in Siskiyou County, California, and Humboldt County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Karuk Tribe, and for other purposes.

Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) introduced the House version of the Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act (H.R. 6032).

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