Rutherford, Lawson, Waltz Work to Designate Northeast Florida National Heritage Area

October 7, 2019
Press Release

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Today, Northeast Florida Congressmen John Rutherford (FL-04), Al Lawson (FL-05), and Michael Waltz (FL-06) announce their introduction of H.R. 4542, the Nation’s Oldest Port National Heritage Area Act, to designate portions of Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, and Flagler Counties as a National Heritage Area (NHA). NHAs, which are designated by Congress and protected by the National Park Service, recognize important natural, cultural, and historic landscapes and help celebrate the nation’s diverse heritage.

“St. Augustine and the entire First Coast is home to countless places of historical significance,” said Rutherford. “From rich Native American and African American history to the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, Northeast Florida’s cultural heritage sites are deserving of this national recognition that will ensure they exist for future generations. I thank the team at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum and all who have worked for many years to achieve this designation. I also want to thank Congressman Waltz and Congressman Lawson for joining me in this effort to forever preserve our cherished landmarks, landscapes, and culture.”  

“Northeast Florida is filled with natural beauty, historical assets and countless resources we need to preserve,” said Waltz. “Our area is one of the oldest, most historical areas in our country, so it’s important we protect and preserve these areas for visitors and residents. I’m proud to work with Rep. Rutherford to honor our area’s role in America’s history and I hope our colleagues in the House will support this bill.”

The Nation’s Oldest Port region of Northeast Florida is home to a mosaic of cultures and maritime heritage, including indigenous Floridians, African slaves, and European and American explorers and settlers. Through public-private partnerships, NHAs provide federal support for historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, and heritage tourism. NHAs provide significant positive impact on the local economies in which they reside. A 2012 study by the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the National Park Service showed NHAs contribute nearly $13 billion annually to the national economy and support 148,000 jobs. There are 55 designated National Heritage Areas in 34 states across the country that support a diversity of conservation, recreation, education, and preservation activities.