Area’s Federal Delegation Seeks to Save Essex National Heritage Area by Fall Deadline

The tall ship Friendship, a replica of an 18th century East Indiaman that was captured by the British in 1812. She is docked in Salem Harbor off Derby Street, across from the Customs House. (Creative Commons.)

For the third year in a row, federal legislators are working to keep the Essex National Heritage Area operating after Sept. 30.

Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Seth Moulton and Lori Trahan recently filed the Essex National Heritage Area Permanency Act of 2021 that would keep money flowing to, and maintain the existence of, the Essex National Heritage Area.

“This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the designation of the Essex National Heritage Area. A lot has been accomplished but there is much more to be done,” said Annie Harris, director of the Essex National Heritage Area. “The pandemic has shown us how important it is to provide opportunities for all our residents to enjoy the assets available in this area. From identifying places to experience the outdoors to providing online materials for remote learning, Essex Heritage has been pleased to serve this region during the pandemic, and we are looking forward to playing an even bigger role as the economy recovers.”

Essex National Heritage Area was created in 1996 as an unusual national park where the emphasis is on the historical significance of the 500-square-mile region, covering 34 cities and towns. The federal delegation says the original legislation has a “sunset” provision ending the designation this year even though the region generates more than $150 million in economic impact and supports thousands of jobs.

“For families throughout the region, the Essex National Heritage Area continues to be a cultural and economic driver. Not only does it benefit Bay Staters and visitors, but it has also contributed mightily to the growth of communities like Lawrence, Haverhill and Andover,” said Trahan. Moulton added, “Two and a half decades ago, when Members of Congress created the Essex National Heritage Area, they clearly failed to imagine how successful it would be for our economy. If they had, they would never have made the idea temporary.”

Similar legislation was filed in 2018 by U.S. Reps. Niki Tsongas and Moulton, and, in 2019, by Trahan and Moulton.

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