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What is the Future of AFHA?

The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) is seeking National Heritage Area designation. This will provide national recognition and credibility, and the opportunity for substantial funding for long-term development of the project. We will need YOUR help in supporting this effort.

On June 30, 2017, Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), introduced H.R. 3142 - the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act of 2017 - in the U.S. House of Representatives. Co-sponsored by Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va) and Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), this introduction means the AFNHA bill is now active in both houses of Congress. With the AFNHA bill now introduced in both houses, and having been recommended out of the Senate committee, this brings AFHA closer than ever before to National Heritage Area designation. See press release HERE.

Senate Bill 401 - Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area of 2017 was introduced by Senators Manchin, Capito, Cardin and Van Hollen on February 15, 2017. For press releases about this bill introduction, see:

Senator Manchin's Press Release (PDF)

AFHA Press Release (PDF)

Combined Bill out of Committee March 30 - S. 401 has been combined with three other National Heritage Area bills to become an amended Senate Bill 713 the "National Heritage Area Authorization Act of 2017." This combined bill was approved out of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on March 30. Sen. Manchin commented, "My legislation will have a positive impact on West Virginia’s economy, traditions and our way of life. . . The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act will invest in a healthy future for both our children and our growing tourism industry in West Virginia." The next step for this bill will be consideration by the whole Senate. Read the text of this combined bill HERE.

AFHA is also strongly supporting the National Heritage Area Program Bill, HR 1002 (Dent / Tonko) which would create a more structured National Heritage Area Program within the National Park Service. This Bill will clarify the criteria for National Heritage Area designation, and should improve the chances for designation of emerging areas like Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area.


Previous versions of the AFNHA Bill have included:

Senate Bill 3167, the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area of 2016, was introduced on July 12, 2016 by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) co-sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). The bill was considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on September 22, 2016, with favorable comments from Sen. Manchin, Sen. Capito, and the Department of the Interior.

House Resolution 693 – to designate Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area
- was introduced February 3, 2015 by Congressman David McKinley (WV-1) with co-sponsorship from Congressmen Evan Jenkins (WV-3), Alex Mooney (WV-2) and John Delaney (MD-6). It has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. This is the first time that the AFNHA bill has been introduced in the House.

Senate Bill 1641 “West Virginia National Heritage Area Act of 2013” was introduced in November 2013 by Senators Rockefeller, Manchin, Cardin, and Mikulski. This bill would have designated the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area and extended the funding eligibility for the existing National Coal Heritage Area and Wheeling National Heritage Area. The bill was reported out of committee in 2014, but was not passed. National Coal Heritage Area and Wheeling National Heritage Area were reauthorized as part of an omnibus bill in December of 2014.


What is a National Heritage Area?

A "National Heritage Area" is a place designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. Heritage areas offer the potential to ensure key educational and inspirational opportunities in perpetuity, while retaining traditional local control over, and use of, the landscape.

Congress has established 49 National Heritage Areas, in which interpretation, conservation, heritage tourism and other activities are managed by partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and the private sector. The National Park Service provides technical assistance as well as financial assistance for a limited number of years following designation.  The Heritage Area program is a grants and outreach program for the National Park Service, not a land management program. There are NO new regulations or management controls associated with designation.

The key features emphasized by the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area are economic development based on heritage tourism, appreciation of our vast forest-related assets, community development based on partnerships across geographic lines and diverse interest groups, and supporting the forestry industry through education and interpretation. If nationally designated, the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area will be managed by a non-profit organization made up of representatives from all counties and interest groups. Benefits of National Designation would include national recognition and visibility, and long term funding for project development.

For more information about National Heritage Areas:

For information about the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, see:

Steps toward NHA designation

The first step toward a National Heritage Area designation is completion of a Feasibility Study that includes assessing national significance of the Heritage Area story and assets as well as showing the public support for the project. Resolutions or support letters from local government entities, non-profit organizations, businesses and residents are a crucial way to show local support. Following the Feasibility Study, a designation bill specific to the Heritage Area must be passed by Congress. Strong local support is, of course, key to a successful effort.

AFHA Feasibility Study for National Heritage Area Designation

What are our Next Steps?
  1. AFHA has completed our Feasibility Study to answer all of the National Park Service criteria for National Heritage Area designation. The National Park Service has reviewed and approved this document.
  2. Designation of Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area will take passage of an act through Congress. Watch information on this page for progress on the AFNHA bill.
  3. Demonstrations of local support. Let your Congressmen and Senators know that you support Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area and the National Heritage Area Program Bill, and thank them for their support. Local governments, non-profits, and residents throughout the area have sent their support letters and resolutions to demonstrate their interest in the AFNHA and National Heritage Areas. Additional current letters will be very helpful in supporting passage of the bills. Send letters to AFHA, Box 1206, Elkins WV 26241. Click HERE for more information on how to write letters or show your support.

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