Landmark Legislation to Ensure Long-Term Stability of The Last Green Valley
President Joe Biden recently signed into law the National Heritage Area Act (S. 1942), continuing overwhelming bipartisan support of the National Heritage Area program. The Act ensures the National Park Service will continue working with The Last Green Valley and other national heritage areas for the next 15 years. It also allows each heritage area to receive National Park Service funds. While The Last Green Valley’s designation as a national heritage corridor has never been in question, The Last Green Valley, Inc.’s (TLGV) authorization to work with the National Park Service and receive funding was set to expire on September 30, 2023.
“The Last Green Valley, like heritage areas around the country, strengthens communities and embodies the best ideas in public-private partnerships,” said Lois Bruinooge, executive director of TLGV, the non-profited designated with oversight of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. “With this long-term reauthorization, we can sharpen our focus to better promote and conserve our natural, historic and cultural resources for future generations to enjoy.”
The Congressional delegations of Massachusetts and Connecticut were instrumental in helping pass the National Heritage Area Act. TLGV is grateful to U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern and Richard Neal of Massachusetts and Joe Courtney of Connecticut also played critical roles in ensuring the legislation was passed.
“The Last Green Valley is not only packed with natural beauty and rich history, but it also serves as an important economic driver for eastern Connecticut. Extending its authorization as a National Heritage Area and increasing federal funding will unlock new investment and ensure The Last Green Valley is protected for future generations,” said Senator Murphy.
“At the same time that demand for accessible open spaces is sky-high across the country right now, we were on the edge of losing critical federal support for one of eastern Connecticut’s most important natural preservation areas. Passage of the National Heritage Act gives The Last Green Valley the long-term reauthorization we’ve been pressing towards for over two years now,” said Congressman Courtney. “Families, classrooms, business outings, and lots of others have all been flocking to the trails and natural setting that places like The Last Green Valley have to offer. Heritage areas like these aren’t just great investments for keeping our land open and green, they also create jobs, establish travel destinations, and they’re a smart long-term investment. Connecticut knows that investments in our open spaces provide real dividends for taxpayers, and I’m proud that after years of working alongside Lois Bruinooge and her team at The Last Green Valley, as well as Senator Chris Murphy and our colleagues in the Connecticut Delegation, that we finally secured another 15 years of federal support for The Last Green Valley and for our region’s other National Heritage Areas.”
TLGV was one of 45 existing NHA stewarding organizations with authorizations set to sunset in the next two years. Reauthorization requires Congressional approval and, prior to this comprehensive legislation, was typically done through individual bills. The legislation also authorizes seven new national heritage areas.
President Ronald Reagan established National Heritage Areas in 1984 when he signed a bill that created the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. In 1994, The Last Green Valley became the fourth national heritage area designated. The region also changed the way heritage areas would be formed and managed, through grassroots efforts supported by local management entities. With the passage of the National Heritage Area Act there are now more than 60 NHAs across the United States. Rather than an enclosed park, as is typical of other programs administered by the National Park Service, NHAs are lived-in spaces that often span large geographic areas crossing multiple jurisdictions, including a total of 591 counties in 34 states.
The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor is the last stretch of dark night sky in the coastal sprawl between Boston and Washington, D.C. The Last Green Valley, Inc. is a member- supported, non-profit organization working for you in the National Heritage Corridor. Together we can care for, enjoy and pass on The Last Green Valley!
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