NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 127
(Senate - November 13, 2006)

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[Pages S10865-S10866]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                      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 
  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 

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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.