A public lands bill signed into law in March created the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area (NHA), which directly impacts the Town of Marana. The Santa Cruz Valley NHA stretches from the watershed of the Santa Cruz River around Nogales and Patagonia, north through Tucson to Marana.
The Santa Cruz Valley NHA is a non-regulatory designation made by Congress to honor and celebrate the region’s contribution to America’s history, which they hope will stimulate heritage-based economic development and geo-tourism in the region.
According to the Green Valley News, “Santa Cruz Valley is a natural and cultural landscape that has been shaped by many generations of people from diverse cultural origins, and the NHA designation provides a unique opportunity to promote these heritage resources and educate the community about our shared heritage.”
Although National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress, they are different from National Parks and other types of federal designations because they do not impose federal zoning or regulations on land use.
“The boundaries of a National Heritage Area are not regulatory, and designation will not affect private property rights, land use zoning, property taxes, or government jurisdictions,” explained the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance. “Participation is completely voluntary. An analogy for a National Heritage Area is an “enterprise zone,” in which an area has been designated for voluntary participation for benefits.”