NHA Act to provide ‘big boost’ to Arabia Mountain

Officials from Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance said the National Heritage Areas (NHA) Act signed into law by Pres. Joe Biden in January ensures that all sites at Arabia Mountain get “a big boost,” via 15 years of federal funding and other federal resources.

The act created seven new national heritage areas—or areas designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape—and also “ensured federal funding for all heritage areas for the [next 15] years,” according to Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance (AMHAA) officials.

A spokesperson for AMHAA added that U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock introduced the bill to the U.S. Senate and that Warnock, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, and U.S. Congressman for Georgia’s 4th District Hank Johnson were “champions of this legislation.”

“This act is so important and critical to the stories that we tell at Arabia Mountain, stories like Bruce Street School, like Flat Rock, where private and public partnerships continue to pave the way for communities of color,” said Arabia Mountain NHA Executive Director Revonda Cosby.

AMHAA officials said Cosby and Arabia Mountain Board Treasurer Kelly Jordan “went to great lengths to garner broad support for the bill, even personally reaching out to our local and national politicians.”

“With metro Atlanta treasure Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area in our own backyard, I was pleased to help pass The National Heritage Area Act, and have President Biden sign it into law,” said Johnson, who cosponsored the legislation in the House. “Arabia Mountain and the more than 60 National Heritage Areas around the country helps us preserve invaluable historic, cultural, and natural resources and the living traditions of our past so that we – and our children and grandchildren – can enjoy these wide-open spaces today and into the future.”

In addition to providing extra funding, adding new NHA areas, and expanding existing NHA areas, Cosby added that the bill will “reauthorize three national heritage areas in Georgia: Arabia Mountain, Augusta Canal, and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.”

Passage of the bill was also in part a result of a national grassroots campaign of letter-writing and phone-calling orchestrated by heritage area leaders.

Staff at Arabia Mountain said passage of the bill was also a result of a national grassroots campaign that the local staff assisted with. They wrote nearly two dozen emails and letters, including several to Warnock and Ossoff, and one email to all seven DeKalb County Commissioners who voted on a resolution in support of the bill.

“The National Heritage Area Act is a testament to the leadership and support we received on a bipartisan basis within congress,” said Cosby. “National heritage areas across the country look forward to serving our communities for an additional 15 years. It’s a direct reflection of the determination and resilience of people and places we represent.”

Officials from AMHAA said after the bill passed in the house, “we at Arabia Mountain celebrated with other NHA workers from across the country via a Zoom cocktail party.”

The full bill may be found at: www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/1942.


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