Defense Law Aids Essex National Heritage Area

Chief Executive Officer Annie C. Harris.

Chief Executive Officer Annie C. Harris.

Despite its name, a defense bill passed by Congress last Friday also reauthorized Essex National Heritage Area, affiliated with the National Park Service and supporting 34 communities including Haverhill, Methuen and Andover.

The National Defense Authorization Act included National Park Service legislation. It named four new national parks, seven national park studies and reauthorized 14 National Heritage Areas, including Essex Heritage. The designation makes the Essex National Heritage Area eligible to continue to receive federal funding.

“We are very grateful to our terrific Massachusetts delegation—Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, Congressman John Tierney and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas—for all their hard work to ensure that Essex Heritage was included. This bill will provide some needed consistency and confidence for many National Heritage Areas,” said Annie Harris, Essex Heritage CEO.

Essex National Heritage Area receives 2.7 million visitors annually from 30 countries. It features 500 square miles of northeastern Massachusetts, 9,968 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 26 National Historic Landmarks, 86 historical sites and museums open to the public, 400 farms, nine state parks and two National Park Service units.

The Essex National Heritage Area was first authorized by congress in 1996. “This legislation that just passed is the first National park legislation to pass in more than 4 years,” said Harris.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan is a Essex National Heritage trustee. Voting commissioners locally also include Joseph Bella, Methuen Historical Society, Methuen; Elaine Clements, Andover Historical Society, Andover; Tim Coco, COCO+CO., Haverhill; Dennis DiZoglio, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Haverhill; Dr. Lane Glenn, Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill; Peter Phippen, Eight Towns and the Great Marsh, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Haverhill; and David Tibbetts, Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, North Andover.

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