What is a National Heritage Area?

National Heritage Areas are places where history, cultural and natural wonders intersect with everyday places where people live and work. An NHA is a region that may cross state and county boundaries that has been recognized by Congress for its unique contribution to the nation’s history. NHA’s are guided by the National Park Service but they are run by local organizations and partnerships interested in promoting and preserving unique resources. In short, the NHA’s tell America’s story. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is one of 49 around the country.

The National Park Service website provides a complete list of National Heritage Areas, with information on visiting the areas, how National Heritage Areas are created, and benefits to communities.

The Director of the National Park Service, Jon Jarvis, explains NHA’s place in the NPS and in protecting the nation’s history in this “Flat Hat Chat.”

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How did Arabia Mountain become a Heritage Area?

The idea to create a Heritage Area grew out of a group of concerned citizens who wanted to protect the natural wonders, delicate plant life and greenspace surrounding Arabia Mountain. As that group learned more about the history of the mountain, they discovered its connections to many other parts of the region. Senator Max Cleland, a Lithonia native, suggested the group pursue a National Heritage Area designation. A 1999 Feasibility Study outlined what the area would include and after many years of coordination with local partners the Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 2006.