Background & Resources
Want to learn more about our work to become a National Heritage Area? Read through the documents below to stay up-to-date with the latest news and information. For more info about the nationally significant landmarks in this region, see the C.M. Russell Museum and Studio National Historic Landmark, Fort Benton National Historic Landmark, the Great Falls Lewis and Clark Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark, and the First People's Buffalo Jump National Historic Landmark.
What are National Heritage Areas?
Heritage areas present opportunities for residents and visitors to recognize and celebrate a region’s cultural and natural assets. A heritage area is both a place and a concept. Physically, heritage areas are regions with concentrations of nationally significant natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational resources.
Most of the properties in a heritage area are in private ownership and will remain in private ownership. Heritage areas are places known for their unique culture and identity, as well as for being good places to live and visit. As a concept, heritage areas are partnerships where residents, businesses, nonprofit organizations, education institutions, local governments and state and federal agencies collaborate to create more livable and economically sustainable regions.
National Heritage Areas (NHA) are honorary designations of important areas in the United States that have national significance. These are places where cultural, historic, and natural resources combine to form an interconnected landscape. NHAs tell nationally important stories about the shaping of America and celebrate our nation’s heritage.
Because they are an honorary designation, they do not affect the rights of either the private landowners in the area, nor the public lands within it. A nonprofit Board of Directors, made up of residents and others from the area, would manage the NHA. The National Park Service will offer expertise to help, but the NHA would not be a part of that or any other governmental agency.
To date, 55 NHAs have been created throughout the U.S.; if we are successful in creating one here, we will be the first in Montana. Learn more about National Heritage Areas here.
What a National Heritage is NOT
Here you can find more FAQ with regard to Heritage Areas. The Upper Missouri River Heritage Area Planning Corporation, Inc. passed a resolution on that issue.
It does NOT alter any duly adopted land use regulation or any approved land use plan or any other regulatory authority. It does NOT authorize the reservation or appropriation of water rights.
It does NOT affect the rights of any property owner, including the right to refrain from participating in any plan, project, program or activity related to the NHA initiative. For more information regarding NHAs, please visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/heritageareas
Economic Impact of NHAs
Originally signed into law by President Reagan in 1984, National Heritage Areas have a well-documented history of spurring economic development in a designated area. An independent 2012 study by Tripp Umback found that NHA's overall annual economic impact in the U.S. is $12.9 billion, which exceeds the amount of federal dollars by 5:1. The economic impact is comprised of three main areas: Tourism, operational expenditures and grant making activities; the majority of impact (99%) is generated by tourism spending.
This economic impact was significant in two ways:
From the Alliance for National Heritage Areas: https://nationalheritageareas.us/issues-we-care-about/economic-impact.
Learn more about the impact of Heritage Areas from Colorado's Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area website at http://sdcnha.org/wp/2017/07/05/impact-of-national-heritage-areas/
National Heritage Areas are places where small investments pay huge dividends, providing demonstrable benefits in communities across the country and in partnership with our National Parks. Jon Jarvis
For more information:
Economic Value of Tourism in Montana
2018 Economic Contribution on Nonresident Travel Spending in Montana Travel Regions and Counties
City of Great Falls: Heritage Planning
National Heritage Areas: Community – Led Conservation and Development
Alliance of National Heritage Areas