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Rivers of Steel Supports Reauthorization Bill

By February 25, 2021December 13th, 2021Press Room

Rivers of Steel Supports Rep. Cartwright and Sen. Casey’s Lead on Bipartisan PA Delegation on Bill to Reauthorize PA National Heritage Areas and Uplift Local Economies

Homestead, PA (February 25, 2021)—Rivers of Steel commends U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) for their efforts earlier this week leading a group of Congressional Democrats and Republicans representing Pennsylvania in introducing the Pennsylvania National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act.

This bill would reauthorize for 15 years five National Heritage Areas (NHAs) in the Commonwealth: Lackawanna Valley, Delaware & Lehigh, Schuylkill River Valley, Oil Region and Rivers of Steel.

Rivers of Steel is grateful to Congressman Cartwright and Senator Casey for their leadership on the statewide NHA legislation.  August Carlino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rivers of Steel said, “We are fortunate to have the support on this legislation of so many others in our Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation.  Pennsylvania has seen incredible economic success across the Commonwealth with our National Heritage Areas, and our state continues to lead the nation and set a national benchmark for how these public-private partnerships benefit the communities in which we work.  We look forward to continuing our work in southwestern Pennsylvania.”

NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, in which the NPS supports state and local conservation and economic development through federal recognition, seed money and technical assistance. They remain in state, local, or private ownership or a combination thereof, and are supported by grants from the federal government and other sources, which can support job-creating projects and businesses.

“Our national heritage areas bring federal money directly to Pennsylvania to benefit small businesses and conservation efforts in our communities,” said Rep. Cartwright. “By reauthorizing Pennsylvania’s national heritage areas, we invest in our economy and the protection of Pennsylvania’s beautiful natural resources for years to come.”

“This legislation recognizes the value of our natural and cultural resources and will protect Pennsylvania’s National Heritage Areas, supporting local conservation and stimulating local economies,” said Senator Casey. “We must continue to fund the vital conservation and economic development work of our NHAs.”

The bill would also remove the funding caps and increase their authorization so Congress can continue funding the heritage areas. The heritage areas then leverage this federal funding many times over through other funding streams, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in the region. These NHAs need to be reauthorized by the end of fiscal year 2021 in order to remain eligible for federal funding.

Last August, Rivers of Steel released an economic impact study that estimates the generation of more than $92 million of economic benefit and 922 jobs each year as a result of spending by visitors to Rivers of Steel and its partners, including the expenditures of Rivers of Steel on grantmaking, operations, and capital improvements.

The annual average of direct, indirect, and induced economic impact estimates a $92 million return on the annual investment of $664,000 by the National Park Service through the National Heritage Area program and an average investment of $200,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Heritage Parks Program.  The result is more than a 100-fold return on investment in terms of ultimate economic benefit for the eight-county region.

This legislation is co-sponsored in the U.S. House by U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), Dwight Evans (D-PA-03), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Dan Meuser (R-PA-09), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-02), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15) and Susan Wild (D-PA-07).

About Rivers of Steel

Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical and 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

This eight-county region is one of 55 National Heritage Areas designated by the U.S. Congress and one of 12 State Heritage Areas. A National Heritage Area is a place of national significance to America. For Rivers of Steel, Congress recognized the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania. Through a public-private partnership with the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Rivers of Steel supports heritage conservation, heritage tourism, and outdoor recreation as a means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing

Rivers of Steel   |   The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Ave, Homestead PA 15120