WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) introduced legislation today to authorize a feasibility study that will be the first step in designating Coastal Virginia as a National Heritage Area formally recognized by the Department of the Interior and National Park Service. There are currently only two National Heritage Area sites in Virginia.
“Coastal Virginia is rich with incredible history and culture ranging from Colonial Williamsburg to the First Landing Sites in Virginia Beach and the Virginia Barrier Islands,” Rep. Luria said. “There is much to celebrate in Coastal Virginia, and my legislation will expand federal funding and opportunities for our historic sites to preserve culturally and historically significant sites throughout Hampton Roads.”
The National Park Service describes National Heritage Areas as “places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes,”
“At the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Virginia has immense recreational, historical and cultural significance. This region is home to Native American tribes as well as the site of the first landing of enslaved Africans in 1619. I am proud to cosponsor Congresswoman Luria’s legislation to enhance educational and recreational opportunities and ensure we preserve Coastal Virginia’s special places for generations to come,” Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03) said.
“Coastal Virginia has immense historical, cultural, and environmental significance for our Great Commonwealth and the nation,” said Rep. Donald McEachin (VA-04). “It is imperative that we continue our efforts to preserve and protect its rich history. Its designation as a National Heritage Area is another step in conserving the vital resources and historical importance of the Hampton Roads region. I am proud to join Congresswoman Luria and Congressman Scott in this effort to bolster its preservation and bring new opportunities to the area.”
The bill’s study would include First Landings Sites such as Fort Monroe and Cape Henry, the Virginia Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore, and the Virginia Peninsula including the greater Historic Triangle.
“Preserving Virginia’s iconic historic sites is vital to sharing and understanding the story of our nation. Colonial Williamsburg applauds the introduction of legislation that will enable access to new sources of federal funding for this purpose,” said Cliff Fleet, President and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
“This region of coastal Virginia is not only the entry point to the Chesapeake Bay but also an entry point to our shared history and to the diverse cultures that contribute to the Chesapeake Bay region’s unique and significant heritage. A Coastal Virginia National Heritage Area would recognize and celebrate this unique and important heritage and would create new opportunities for conservation, recreation, education and tourism,” Chesapeake Conservancy’s President and CEO Joel Dunn said.