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Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study

Northern Neck National Heritage Area » Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study » Document List

In March 2009, Congress passed legislation directing the National Park Service to study Virginia's Northern Neck to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the study area as a national heritage area. The study legislation identifies 13 national heritage area criteria to be employed by the National Park Service in conducting the study and requires consultation with state and local agencies. The criteria include the analysis and evaluation of the natural, historical, cultural, educational, scenic and recreational resources of the area as being nationally distinct and worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation and continuing use, and the significant and demonstrated support of the study area community including residents, business interests, organizations and appropriate local, state and federal government agencies.

In addition to the 13 criteria identified in the legislation, the NPS evaluated the study area according to the NPS National Heritage Area Feasibility Study Guidelines. The guidelines provide a step-by-step process to evaluate the suitability and feasibility of NHA designation according to ten criteria. These criteria are used to assess an area's heritage resources, identify if opportunities exist to conserve and better understand those resources, and determine if there is public support and commitment to manage a potential heritage area.

NPS initiated the study in 2009 through public meetings with stakeholders, including the proposed management entity of the potential NHA - the Northern Neck Tourism Commission. Additional meetings and workshops were held and NPS shared both a draft and revised study for interagency review, as directed by the study legislation. Based on substantive input from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and other stakeholders, the final study addresses how each of the 10 criteria of the guidelines are met, as well as the 13 described in the legislation.

The NPS identified a nationally significant story with several themes, continuing local traditions, and a strategic assemblage of associated natural and historic resources. These resources retain sufficient integrity and opportunities for public engagement and could constitute an NHA. In addition, the potential coordinating entity was found to be ready and capable of managing an NHA if one was created.

In conclusion, the area was found to meet all ten evaluation criteria to be eligible for designation as a national heritage area. The study is now complete and has been sent to Congress for consideration. Please see the attached Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study for more information and details of the study findings.