Today, members of the Louisiana congressional delegation released the following statements after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed their effort to reauthorize the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) in the Senate, and U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the House of Representatives, reauthorizes the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (NHA) for 15 years. The bill is a recommitment to the unique heritage of "America's Foreign Country."
The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Act was originally signed into law in 2006 and established the NHA for 15 years. The heritage area spans 14 parishes, including St. Mary, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Landry, Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee, Iberville, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafayette, West Baton Rouge, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, and Ascension.
"The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is the home of Cajun culture," said Dr. Cassidy. "This bill preserves the unique history of the Atchafalaya region and creates jobs."
"Designation as a national heritage area provides our state with both economic and environmental benefits. The Atchafalaya Basin is an integral part of South Louisiana's culture and heritage, and our bill helps preserve those traditions," said Representative Higgins.
"The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area will help preserve the unique Cajun and Creole cultures found in the Atchafalaya Basin. I commend Senate committee approval of our legislation to preserve this special Louisiana landmark, and look forward to this bill receiving a vote before the Senate," said Representative Johnson.
Stakeholders and elected officials across South Louisiana support the reauthorization including:
Acadiana Planning Commission
Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
Ascension Parish (Parish President Clint Cointment)
Avoyelles Parish Police Jury
Cajun Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau
City of Patterson, LA
Concordia Parish Police Jury (President Joseph Parker, Sr.)Louisiana Travel Association
Louisiana Travel Association
Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitor Bureau
The Nature Conservancy
Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut
South Central Planning and Development Commission
South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center
St. Mary Parish President David Hanagriff
St. Mary Chapter of the Louisiana Landmarks Society
St. Mary Chamber of Commerce (President Donna Meyer)
St. Mary Parish Tourist Commission
Terrebonne Parish Consolidated GovernmentTunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser
State Representative Rhonda Butler
State Representative Phillip Devillier
State Representative Kathy Edmonston
State Representative Les Farnum
State Representative Bryan Fontenot
State Representative Mike Huval
State Representative Clay Schexnayder
State Representative Phillip Tarver
State Representative Jerome Zeringue
State Senator Bret Allain
State Senator Page Cortez
State Senator Ronnie Johns
State Senator Fred Mills
State Senator Gary Smith
The Mission of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, America's Foreign Country, is to build understanding and identity, raising local, regional and national awareness of the Atchafalaya region; to strengthen the fabric of the place; to expand economic opportunities and to increase the community collaboration and involvement within the parishes that constitute the heritage area while supporting a healthier Atchafalaya ecosystem and enhancing natural resource-based recreation opportunities.
National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a nationally important landscape. NHAs are not national park units, rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is one of 55 designated by Congress since 1984.