Oct. 22, 2003 – A bill introduced in Congress by Delegate Donna M. Christensen calling for research into possibly establishing National Heritage Areas on St. Croix won approval on Tuesday from the House Resources Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands.
"St. Croix has natural, historic and cultural resources that represent distinctive aspects of American heritage that are worthy of recognition and provide outstanding recreational and educational opportunities," Christensen said in a release distributed on Wednesday.
The bill directs the Secretary of Interior to conduct a study of the suitability and feasibility of establishing such federal areas on the island. Christensen termed the subcommittee's approval a "step in the process of opening up St. Croix to another avenue of economic and cultural investment."
National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System. They comprise lands and properties, mainly privately owned, that reflect the history of their people. They may include natural, scenic, historic, cultural or recreation resources. Conservation, interpretation and other activities involving the designated areas are handled by partnerships among federal, state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.
Christensen said an important aspect of the proposed study by the Interior Department "is that it would compel us to organize and bring resources for these areas [to bear] that could aid in the development of the island in a culturally sensitive manner."
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