Waltz, Lawson, Rutherford Introduce Bill to Celebrate Natural Resources, Heritage of Northeast Florida

October 7, 2019
Press Release

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – On Monday, U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Al Lawson (D-Fla.) and John Rutherford (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to preserve historical landmarks and natural resources and celebrate the heritage of Northeast Florida by designating portions of Duval, St. Johns and Flagler Counties as a National Heritage Area (NHA).

The Nation’s Oldest Port National Heritage Area Act would designate parts of Northeast Florida as NHAs. NHA designations recognize important natural, cultural and historic landscapes and help celebrate the nation’s diverse heritage.

“Northeast Florida is filled with natural beauty, historical assets and countless resources we need to preserve,” Waltz said. “Our area is one of the oldest, most historical areas in our country, so it’s important we protect and preserve these areas for visitors and residents.”

“St. Augustine and the entire First Coast is home to countless places of historical significance,” said Rutherford. “From rich Native American and African American history to the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, Northeast Florida’s cultural heritage sites are deserving of this national recognition that will ensure they exist for future generations. I thank the team at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum and all who have worked for many years to achieve this designation. I also want to thank Congressman Waltz and Congressman Lawson for joining me in this effort to forever preserve our cherished landmarks, landscapes and culture.”  

The Nation’s Oldest Port region of Northeast Florida is home to a mosaic of cultures and maritime heritage, including Native Americans and European and American explorers.

Through public-private partnerships, NHA areas support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation and heritage tourism. NHAs have a significant impact on the economy. A 2012 study by the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and National Park Service showed NHAs contribute nearly $13 billion annually to the national economy and support 148,000 jobs.

“I’m proud to work with Reps. Rutherford and Lawson to honor our area’s role in America’s history and I hope our colleagues in the House will support this bill,” Waltz said.