Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), applauded the National Park Service’s (NPS) announcement that Wheeling National Heritage Area has been approved to continue receiving funding beyond fiscal year (FY) 2020.
Senator Manchin has been a strong supporter of West Virginia’s National Heritage Areas, and recently secured a $2M increase in Wheeling Heritage’s funding cap as part of the recently passed John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.
Since approximately 2008, National Heritage Areas must undergo a congressionally mandated evaluation at least three years prior to their expiration to continue to receive funding. Wheeling Heritage’s evaluation report was completed and reviewed by NPS in September 2018 but it was not finalized nor sent to Congress until today.
Last week, Senator Manchin sent a letter to the Acting Director of the NPS, Dan Smith, asking for a timetable of the report’s evaluation and release to Congress, as well as underscoring Wheeling Heritage’s cultural significance and importance to the surrounding local economy. Without this report, Wheeling Heritage would not have been eligible for funding in FY2020.
As a result of Senator Manchin’s letter, Acting Director Smith wrote back this week, stating that NPS had evaluated Wheeling Heritage. Smith stated that Wheeling Heritage met all the requirements needed to continue the funding, while providing value to the community through the use of NPS and matching funds to operate a sustainable national heritage area organization.
“It is great that Wheeling Heritage has finally been approved to continue getting the funding it needs. Wheeling Heritage brings joy to so many and attracts countless tourists, which are vital to Wheeling’s economy.
I have been fighting to make sure NPS expedited their review of Wheeling Heritage because I know just how important it is to our state,” said Senator Manchin. “Although I am disheartened that it took so long for the report to be reviewed, I applaud Acting Director Smith and NPS for their quick response to my letter and look forward to working with them to fast-track this process in the future.”