Essex National Heritage Area Gets Life Extension with Approval of Federal Spending Law

Buttonwoods Museum serves as a welcome center for the Essex National Heritage Area. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Essex National Heritage Area Chief Executive Officer Annie C. Harris.

The Essex National Heritage Area, created in 1996 as an unusual national park, will continue to receive federal financial support this year as legislators recently approved a spending bill continuing the designation until 2023.

Federal law authorizing the secretary of the interior to provide money to the Essex National Heritage Area expired last Sept. 30. The countywide park emphasizes the historical significance of the 500-square-mile region, covering 34 cities and towns.

“Two and a half decades after its creation, the Essex National Heritage Area continues to serve as a cultural and economic driver for working families throughout the region and for communities like Lawrence, Haverhill and Andover,” said Congresswoman Lori Trahan in a joint legislative statement.

Sen. Edward J. Markey said he is glad the spending bill “heeded our call to extend the Essex National Heritage Area’s authorization, enabling it to receive the federal funds it needs to continue to support partnerships between Massachusetts communities and the National Park Service to preserve our regional treasures.” He added he “will continue fighting in the Senate to lift the funding cap for the Essex National Heritage Area and extend its authorization even further until 2036.”

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton added, “The Essex National Heritage Area brings hundreds of thousands of people to northeast Massachusetts, where they spend millions of dollars and create thousands of jobs in our community.”

Last year, Sens. Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Moulton and Trahan introduced legislation to eliminate the total funding cap for the Essex National Heritage Area and extend its authorization by 15 years to 2036. In November 2021, the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee passed a version of the bill that would raise the heritage area’s funding cap to $22 million and extend its authorization to 2036.

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