Congress designates NHAs through legislation to recognize lived-in places where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources intersect. NHAs form cohesive, distinctive landscapes arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.

​NHAs collaborate with area residents and organizations by using local, grass-roots, community-driven approaches to heritage conservation, community revitalization, and economic development. NHAs are not National Parks: rather the National Park Service (NPS) partners with the local community, providing technical assistance and distributing matching federal funds from Congress to a NHA.


NHAs are places where small investments pay huge dividends, providing demonstrable benefits in communities across the country and in partnership with our national parks.

– Jon Jarvis, former Director of the National Park Service ​

Sustainable economic development – For every $1 of federal funds invested, NHAs leverage an additional $5.50 to create jobs, generate revenue for local governments, and sustain local communities through revitalization and heritage tourism.

Healthy environment and people – Restoration projects can improve local water and air quality, and new recreational opportunities encourage people to enjoy natural and cultural sites.

Improved quality of life – NHAs bring improved amenities, educational resources, and volunteer opportunities.

Education and stewardship – Educational activities connect communities to natural, historic, and cultural sites, raising awareness and interest in the stewardship of local resources.

Community engagement and pride – Engagement in heritage conservation activities strengthens pride and sense of place.

National profile for a nationally significant landscape – The Calumet Heritage Area would benefit from stronger regional identity and closer cooperation with the National Parks.

Photos: Header: Matthew Kaplan, Calumet River. Right, top: City of Gary Department of Redevelopment and Planning; The Field Museum/ ECCO6720. Right Middle, Method Southside Soapbox – factory in Pullman; Right Bottom: Matthew Kaplan, East Chicago Lakefront