National Heritage Areas can bring in about $10 million a year in matching federal funds over a 15-period. An effort is now underway to designate the Little Colorado River watershed as an area of importance to help preserve the culture, history, archaeology and natural resources.
The Center for Desert Archaeology in Tucson, is initiating the effort as they has been involved in researching the feasibility for such designation in other areas before like the Santa Cruz Valley in southern Arizona.
CDA employees say the vision of a Little Colorado River Valley National Heritage Area if designated by Congress, would bring together local stakeholders seeking to preserve and promote the unique natural and cultural landscapes of this region.
The CDA website states: "The Little Colorado River Valley is a unique and diverse watershed in the southwestern United States, encompassing a mosaic of cultures and history. Living together in the region are Native American tribes that trace their roots to prehistoric times, the descendants of Spaniards who colonized the area, and current generations of late 19th-century American pioneers and Mormon farmers who ventured into this region seeking new beginnings. The abundance of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and communities and archaeological sites associated with this rich multicultural history, is complemented by spectacular natural, scenic, and recreational resources. This bountiful combination of resources makes the region uniquely suited for designation as a National Heritage Area."
The Petrified Forest National Park will be a partner and guide in the designation process and subsequent management of the program if approved.
"This designation will in no way affect development or private property rights within the region," said Bill Doelly, a CDA archaeologist who has spent many years working at Homolovi. He spoke to those at a recent Little Colorado River Watershed Coordinating Council meeting in Holbrook. The LCRWCC, a multi-governmental organization, seeks to coordinate efforts to preserve the water supply of the same area the CDA is seeking to designate as a heritage area. Collaboration is preliminary at the moment, but the two groups appeared to be excited about the potential. More about this Heritage Area project can be found online at: www.cdarc.org