November 13, 2006 - Issue: Vol. 152, No. 127 — Daily Edition109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - 2nd Session
NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 127
(Senate - November 13, 2006)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Pages S10865-S10866] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS ACT Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to celebrate final passage of the National Heritage Areas of 2006. I am grateful that Congress finally has recognized the Upper Housatonic Valley in Connecticut and Massachusetts for its special contribution to the American experience. This new law designates the Upper Housatonic Valley as a National Heritage Area and authorizes $10 million to preserve its historic and cultural assets. Today's victory has been a long time in coming. In 2000, I sponsored legislation directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of the feasibility of establishing the Upper Housatonic Valley as a National Heritage Area. After the Interior Department completed that report, Senator Dodd and I in 2003 introduced the first bill to create the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area. Last Congress, a bill that would have created that area and a dozen others passed the Senate but died in the House. In this Congress, we reintroduced the Senate bill, and Representative Nancy Johnson reintroduced its House companion. Finally, after 6 years of hard work, I can stand announce that legislation to create the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area has passed the Senate and the House. The act now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it into law without delay. The Upper Housatonic Valley's history is this Nation's history in microcosm--spanning Native American civilization, European settlement, the industrial revolution, and the present day. In contrast to many other areas of the country, the Upper Housatonic Valley's early historical and natural landscape remains largely intact. What is more, the area presents excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation, on waterways and greenways or trails, and a wide range of other activities for visitors or residents. For example, the section of the river below Falls Village, Connecticut is one of the Northeast's most prized fly- fishing centers. This unique 950-square-mile region encompasses 29 towns in the Housatonic River watershed, extending 60 miles from Lanesboro, MA, to Kent, CT. The valley brims with more than 100 historically important sites--some dating back to pre-Revolutionary times--including five National Historic Landmarks and four National Natural Landmarks. The Iron Heritage Trail celebrates the valley's distinctive role in iron production. During the Revolutionary War, cannons and rifles were forged for Gen. George Washington's Army from abundant local iron ore, and iron used in the USS Constitution also came from this area. More than 40 iron blast furnaces in the region fueled the Industrial Revolution. Within Upper Housatonic Valley, the African-American Heritage Trail celebrates the region's significant contributions to our Nation's African-American history, including the abolitionist and civil rights movements. For example, the valley was home to Elizabeth ``Mumbet'' Freeman, a pioneer in the fight against slavery, W.E.B. Du Bois, a father of the modern civil rights movement, NAACP leader Mary White Ovington, and Frank Grant of the Negro Baseball League. The valley has produced writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, and musicians, among them Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, James VanDerZee, and James Weldon Johnson. These artists have left the Nation a rich cultural inheritance. Today, the region remains a vibrant center for ongoing literary, artistic, musical, and architectural achievements. Coordinated efforts to preserve the natural and cultural resources of this region are already well underway. The designation of the Upper Housatonic [[Page S10866]] Valley National Heritage Area supports and enhances these local efforts to interpret, preserve, and showcase the diverse historic, cultural, and natural resources of the valley. In closing, I would like to congratulate the many dedicated advocates in Connecticut, whose dogged efforts led to today's achievement. ____________________