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Christensen Explains Importance of National Heritage Area Plan

Aug. 20, 2008 — Declaring that it's "important to define the unique things we have here," Delegate Donna M. Christensen addressed a small crowd on St. Croix Tuesday about work to create a National Heritage Area (NHA) on St. Croix.
"We want to get in early while there is still money," Christensen told about 20 people gathered at the Drive In in Estate Plessen. "There are only 40 National Heritage areas that have been established."
National Heritage areas are built on community partnership and planned around a region's shared heritage. An NHA is a locally managed place designated by the U.S. 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 preserve the cultural landscape and local stories for future generations. They also provide educational and inspirational opportunities that encourage residents and visitors to stay in a place.
Joanna Desir came to Tuesday's meeting representing the group St. Lucia of St. Croix.
"The creation of a Heritage Area is a great opportunity to showcase and expose St. Croix to the world," she said.
Congress approved the St. Croix National Heritage Area Study Act in October 2006. A feasibility study is now being conducted. First the process consists of gathering public input, identifying local stories, traditions, culture and places that contribute to the designation of St. Croix as a NHA. Also determined will be the NHA boundary.
"These meetings are a local initiative partnership bringing the community together to plan," Christensen said. The goal is to show why St. Croix is unique and how it has contributed to the history of the United States, she said.
The next phase is the draft study, which includes things such as the history of the area, a vision statement and assessment of the positive and negative environmental, social and economic impacts. Once the draft is completed, the public will be invited to discuss and make comments on it. The study is finalized and ready for recommendation to determine if the study area meets the national criteria.
Ultimately, the National Park Service, as directed by the secretary of the Interior, will produce a report on the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study, which will be submitted to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate. Finally, congressional action is taken. Christensen said Congress has never turned down a feasibility study for an area.
The NHA is under the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior provides planning, funding, branding, technical assistance and continued partnership. The NHA may be eligible for funding up to $1 million a year for 10 years, Christensen said.
Everyone should be involved in the process, she said, including government agencies, non-profits and the tourism industry.
"The residents are who I'm trying to reach," Christensen said. "This is the opportunity to participate ourselves. We want to make sure we don't exclude anyone — we are reaching out to everyone."
The next meeting is planned for Sept. 22 at the American Legion Hall in Christiansted.
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Aug. 20, 2008 -- Declaring that it's "important to define the unique things we have here," Delegate Donna M. Christensen addressed a small crowd on St. Croix Tuesday about work to create a National Heritage Area (NHA) on St. Croix.
"We want to get in early while there is still money," Christensen told about 20 people gathered at the Drive In in Estate Plessen. "There are only 40 National Heritage areas that have been established."
National Heritage areas are built on community partnership and planned around a region's shared heritage. An NHA is a locally managed place designated by the U.S. 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 preserve the cultural landscape and local stories for future generations. They also provide educational and inspirational opportunities that encourage residents and visitors to stay in a place.
Joanna Desir came to Tuesday's meeting representing the group St. Lucia of St. Croix.
"The creation of a Heritage Area is a great opportunity to showcase and expose St. Croix to the world," she said.
Congress approved the St. Croix National Heritage Area Study Act in October 2006. A feasibility study is now being conducted. First the process consists of gathering public input, identifying local stories, traditions, culture and places that contribute to the designation of St. Croix as a NHA. Also determined will be the NHA boundary.
"These meetings are a local initiative partnership bringing the community together to plan," Christensen said. The goal is to show why St. Croix is unique and how it has contributed to the history of the United States, she said.
The next phase is the draft study, which includes things such as the history of the area, a vision statement and assessment of the positive and negative environmental, social and economic impacts. Once the draft is completed, the public will be invited to discuss and make comments on it. The study is finalized and ready for recommendation to determine if the study area meets the national criteria.
Ultimately, the National Park Service, as directed by the secretary of the Interior, will produce a report on the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study, which will be submitted to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate. Finally, congressional action is taken. Christensen said Congress has never turned down a feasibility study for an area.
The NHA is under the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior provides planning, funding, branding, technical assistance and continued partnership. The NHA may be eligible for funding up to $1 million a year for 10 years, Christensen said.
Everyone should be involved in the process, she said, including government agencies, non-profits and the tourism industry.
"The residents are who I'm trying to reach," Christensen said. "This is the opportunity to participate ourselves. We want to make sure we don't exclude anyone -- we are reaching out to everyone."
The next meeting is planned for Sept. 22 at the American Legion Hall in Christiansted.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.