March 04, 2022

Van Hollen, Cardin, Mfume Push to Reauthorize Baltimore National Heritage Area

City’s National Heritage Area designation has led to more than $8.6 million in federal grants since its creation in 2009

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Kweisi Mfume, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) introduced legislation (S. 3744/H.R. 6931) to reauthorize the National Park Service designation of the Baltimore National Heritage Area, allowing for continued federal support of local agencies and non-profits in their efforts to preserve and promote Baltimore’s pivotal role in our nation’s story. 

The Baltimore National Heritage Area serves as the coordinating agency for heritage tourism and works with more than 20 partners to implement its programs. Many of these programs allow underserved youth in Baltimore to engage more fully in the city’s history, cultural heritage and environmental stewardship. Since its inception in 2009, the Baltimore National Heritage Area has distributed more than $8.62 million in grant funds through four different grant programs to stimulate heritage tourism. 

When combined with matching funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and City of Baltimore, the annual economic impact of the Baltimore National Heritage Area is more than $750 million, 6,400 jobs and $61 million in state and tax revenue. The heritage area has served more than 15,000 youth from underserved communities and provides continuous operation and program support to 35 historic museums, cultural attractions and historic neighborhoods through a competitive grant program. It offers coordinating support to the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Civil War Trails and Captain John Smith National Historic Trail.

The bill would extend the heritage area’s authorization to 2036 and modify the boundary to include additional historic neighborhoods, providing a more comprehensive cross-section of Baltimore. 

“Baltimore has a deep history and a unique place in the founding and evolution of our country, and the establishment of the Baltimore National Heritage Area positioned us to maximize the value of those facets to our residents and visitors alike,” said the lawmakers. “With the current authorization of the Baltimore National Heritage Area soon expiring, our legislation will extend the designation through 2036, ensuring that the city and its next generation of students will benefit from the increased federal investments it makes possible.”

“The Baltimore National Heritage Area recognizes and promotes our city’s unique historic, cultural and natural resources,” said Shauntee Daniels, Executive Director, Baltimore National Heritage Area.  “Our city has been witness to both people and events that have dramatically altered the course of our nation’s history. This legislation will ensure that Baltimore’s rich and vibrant heritage will continue to be celebrated and preserved by current and future generations.”