Wednesday, 03 July 2024 14:50

Bill Seeks to Include Washington and Saratoga Counties in National Heritage Area Enhancement Act

Sean Kelleher, Historian for the Town of Saratoga, testifying before the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee on July 27, 2024. Sean Kelleher, Historian for the Town of Saratoga, testifying before the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee on July 27, 2024.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s bipartisan bill, the Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Enhancement Act, which would enhance the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area to include all of Washington and Saratoga Counties. 

The anticipated purpose is that it would expand opportunities for both counties to participate in federal grant programs, increase tourism, and support economic development in Washington and Saratoga Counties. 

The Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 1996 and is one of the now 62 federally recognized National Heritage Areas throughout the U.S., and collaborates with residents, government agencies, non-profit groups and private partners to interpret, preserve and celebrate nationally significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. 

Originally called the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (NHA), it was officially renamed In March 2019 in honor of the late Congressman who wrote the legislation creating the NHA in 1996. 

The “Area” regions have included the Upper Hudson Valley (Greene, Columbia, Albany, and Rensselaer counties), the Middle Hudson Valley (Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Ulster), and the Lower Hudson Valley (Westchester and Rockland counties).   

Congresswoman Stefanik, R-Saratoga, who represents the ever-changing geographical 21st Congressional District, invited Town of Saratoga Historian Sean Kelleher to testify before the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee on the benefits of the legislation.

“This bill corrects a historical oversight, thus boosting local economies and ensuring that future generations can fully appreciate the birthplace of American independence,” said Kelleher, noting the addition of the two counties “will empower and facilitate our communities in Saratoga and Washington County to better collaborate with federal and state agencies to achieve our common goals.” 

“I’m proud to see my legislation to expand the Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area to include all of Washington and Saratoga Counties featured before the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands,” Stefanik said, in a statement. “This expansion would create opportunities for both counties to increase tourism and support economic development in the region.” 

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