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Reauthorize Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

leah kirk

A bill to extend authorization of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area by four years has been filed in the U.S. Senate under the name “Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act of 2017.”

Introduced by N.C. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, S. 2225 has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“This program has boosted the tourism economy in our state by billions with only a fraction of that coming from federal coffers,” Burr said. “By extending this authorization for an additional four years, millions more will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and culture of Western North Carolina for a long time to come.”

“The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area plays a vital role in the Western North Carolina tourism industry, creating thousands of jobs and contributing billions of dollars to the local economy,” Tillis added.

The BRNHA was established in 2003 by legislation stating that it would end 15 years after enactment, putting its sunset at 2018. The bill Tillis and Burr introduced would extend that sunset date to 19 years after the original enactment.

The BRNHA spans 25 counties in Western North Carolina, aiming preserve and develop the region’s distinctive culture. Since its inception, it has provided more than 154 grants totaling $2.1 million, supporting more than 30,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $2.39 billion.