National Heritage Areas are places where history, cultural and natural wonders intersect with everyday places where people live and work.
A National Heritage Area (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. NHAs are guided by the National Park Service but they are run by local organizations and partnerships interested in promoting and preserving unique natural, cultural and historical resources. In short, NHAs tell America’s story. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is one of 62 around the country.
The National Park Service website provides a complete list of National Heritage Areas, with information on visiting the different areas, how National Heritage Areas are created, and benefits to communities.
In early 2023, after a years-long effort, congress passed the National Heritage Area Act (S.1942), which standardized criteria for funding, management and designation of new NHAs and authorized up to $1 million annually for the next 15 years! This bill received rare unanimous support in the Senate and overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.
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.
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.