March 25, 2022

Congressman Neguse Unveils Legislation to Preserve Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area

Legislation Would Ensure Colorado’s Three National Heritage Areas Can Continue to Use National Park Service Funds For Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism Projects 

Washington D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman Doug Lamborn, unveiled bipartisan, bicameral legislation to preserve the Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area, Sangre de Cristo and South Park. The Colorado National Heritage Areas Reauthorization Act would reauthorize these three National Heritage Areas in Colorado, ensuring they continue to receive National Park Service (NPS) funding through 2036. The legislation is supported by Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper in the Senate.

“The Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area is a vibrant outdoor site at the heart of Fort Collins,” said Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “From outdoor activities like hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, fishing and birdwatching to soaking in the rich history of our state at the museum and historical attractions, the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area is a great location to learn, explore and become inspired. Our legislation will ensure this area, along with the Sangre de Cristo and South Park National Heritage Areas continue to receive federal funds, so these areas and activities can be preserved for generations to come.”

The Cache la Poudre River is essential to the lives of the more than a half-million people in the northern Colorado Front Range and is the heart of the National Heritage Area. The heritage area includes Watson Lake, Picnic Rock Natural Area, 1883 Water Works, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Fort Collins Whitewater Park, Frank State Wildlife Area, River Bluffs Open Space, Boardwalk Park Museum, Centennial Village Museum and Poudre Learning Center.

View footage of the Poudre River Heritage site here. 

“It is affirming to see what can be accomplished when we work together to preserve our country’s extensive history and culture through National Heritage Areas,” said Sabrina Stoker, Executive Director of the Poudre Heritage Alliance. “We are grateful to Congressman Neguse, Senator Bennet, and Senator Hickenlooper for their support of the Colorado National Heritage Areas Reauthorization Act. The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area is not only a valuable resource to the Northern Colorado community, in many ways it defines us. It is the heart of the National Heritage area and is a great location to learn, explore and become inspired.”

“The Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area is not only a valuable resource to the Northern Colorado community, in many ways it defines us,” said Julie Pignataro, City of Fort Collins Councilmember and a Poudre Heritage Alliance Board Member. “Residents and visitors alike find value in this heritage area through cultural and environmental learning and our communities benefit economically from all that the river corridor provides. And last but certainly not least, it is amazingly beautiful.”

“When national heritage areas are protected, all of us benefit, especially local communities. These nationally significant landscapes create jobs, inspire local pride, and help us understand American culture and history,” said Tracy Coppola, Colorado Senior Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association. “To continue their work, our heritage areas depend on a modest amount of federal funding, matched locally dollar-for-dollar with non-federal sources in what is one of the National Park Service’s most cost-effective programs. NPCA applauds Congressmen Neguse and Lamborn for their bipartisan leadership on the critical need to reauthorize funding for Colorado’s Cache la Poudre, Sangre de Cristo, and South Park National Heritage Areas.” 

“The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area was designated to promote, preserve, protect, and interpret the heritage area’s profound historical, religious, environmental, geographic, geological, cultural, and linguistic resources,” said Julie Chacon, Executive Director of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. “The heritage area supports development of a vibrant heritage tourism sector that stimulates preservation, economic development, and community revitalization.  We tell the significant stories of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in ways that build community pride and support preservation, living traditions, economic development, and community revitalization. Reauthorization of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, which consists of 3,000 square miles, will allow us to continue this rewarding work in this extremely unique area.”

“South Park National Heritage Area (SPNHA) is the gateway to the American West and the embodiment of the American Dream. A unique landscape, this vast grassland basin is surrounded on three sides by towering 14,000ft peaks and the opportunities for outdoor recreation are limitless. South Park provides opportunities to enjoy a wealth of nationally significant natural resources including ancient Bristlecone pine trees, globally rare plants, lynx and over 110 rare or endangered species,” said Andy Spencer, Executive Director of the Park County Department of Heritage & Tourism. “Without the SPNHA’s Federal, State and local resources many of Park County’s historic structures and American stories could be lost forever. South Park National Heritage Area welcomes visitors to join us and explore our historic heritage, natural wonders and our outdoor experiences in the – still wild – West.”

Colorado’s three National Heritage Areas were first authorized in 2009 following years of grassroots organizing from stakeholders in their respective regions. NHAs leverage federal NPS funds for historic and cultural preservation projects with the support of counties, tourism, and historic preservation organizations. Colorado’s three National Heritage Areas have all completed notable projects since they were authorized in 2009. At the South Park NHA, NPS funds have helped to restore the endangered Paris Mill near Alma. Within the Sangre de Cristo NHA, funds have helped to share the story of the first desegregation case in the nation, Mestas v. Shone. At the Cache la Poudre NHA, they leveraged NPS funds to develop a water education curriculum at the Poudre River that can be accessed across the West.