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Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program

The Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program is a multi-region asset-based economic development program rooted in the commonwealth’s rich natural, cultural, and industrial history.

DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation administers the Pennsylvania Heritage Areas Program.

Heritage Areas create cross-sector partnerships that enhance a region’s “sense of place” and strengthen regional economies. These partnerships create vibrant livable communities that attract private investment and house the products and places that drive Pennsylvania’s tourism industry.

Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas operate in 57 of 67 counties throughout the commonwealth.

Heritage PA is an association of Heritage Area managers and executive directors. This organization serves as a forum to discuss and implement programmatic improvements, share best practices, and interact with state agencies.

Heritage Area Investment Areas MapThis map shows the investment areas of Pennsylvania’s 12 state-designated Heritage Areas.

Economic Impact of Pennsylvania Heritage Areas

The Economic Impact of Pennsylvania Heritage Areas (PDF), a report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, found that in 2014:

  • Tourists spent an estimated 7.5 million days and nights in Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas, purchasing more than $2 billion worth of goods and services
  • 70 percent of this spending was purely reliant on heritage-related attractions
  • The total contribution of heritage visitor spending to the state economy was 25,708 jobs and $798 million in labor income

Pennsylvania’s 12 State-Designated Heritage Areas

Each of Pennsylvania’s 12 state-designated Heritage Areas is independently established and managed.  They are as unique as the history they preserve, the resources they enhance, and the communities they support and grow. They are:

  • Allegheny Ridge Corporation
  • Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
  • Endless Mountains Heritage Region
  • Lackawanna Heritage Valley
  • Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor
  • Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania
  • National Road Heritage Corridor
  • Oil Region National Heritage Area
  • Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance
  • Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
  • Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area
  • Susquehanna Heritage

Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas Program was established in 1989. A brief history (PDF) of the program and a comparison to similar programs in other states was compiled in 2014.

National Heritage Areas

Five of Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas share a national designation through the National Park Service.

  • Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
  • Lackawanna Heritage Valley
  • Oil Region Alliance
  • Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
  • Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area

Pennsylvania has more federally designated Heritage Areas than any other state, a testament to the important role our commonwealth played in the development of the United States and the world.

Funding for Heritage Areas

Program funding is appropriated annually to DCNR through the heritage and other parks line item in the state budget. Funding is administered by DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.