Proposal to create Caddo Lake National Heritage Area not moving forward

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) have released the following joint statement announcing that legislation to create a National Heritage Area near Caddo Lake in Texas and Louisiana will no longer be considered in Congress:

“This proposal was an effort to create more jobs and economic opportunity for the Caddo Lake community while protecting the private property rights of residents. However, we said from the beginning that if the people of Northwest Louisiana did not support this effort, neither would we. Since some residents are still opposed, we are respecting their wishes by making sure the proposal will no longer be considered in Congress. We will continue to listen to and serve the people of Northwest Louisiana, vigorously defend private property rights, and do everything we can to ensure our local communities prosper.”

Senator Cassidy also sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski requesting the bill not be considered.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a National Heritage Area (NHA)?

A National Heritage Area commemorates, conserves and promotes areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural and recreational resources. Louisiana currently has two NHAs: the Cane River National Heritage Area and the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area.

Are NHAs controlled by the federal government in any way?

No. 

Does the creation of an NHA increase federal land or impose more burdensome federal regulations?

No. National Heritage Areas are not controlled by any entity of the federal government. They are not federally owned and managed.

Does the creation of an NHA lead to restrictions on hunting or fishing?

No.

Do NHAs affect people’s property rights?

No. In Louisiana, the Cane River National Heritage Area and the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area were established years ago, and no one has identified a single, specific example of individual property rights being affected in the years those NHAs have existed.

What role does the federal government have?

The National Park Service can provide financial aid to NHAs, but it is not able to take any action beyond providing advisory input. National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System.

How would an NHA impact oil and gas activity on Caddo Lake?

Owners of oil and gas leases would not be impacted. In fact, the petroleum industry is part of the unique cultural heritage of the area. Currently, activities on Caddo Lake are largely regulated at the state level. That will not change.

Who manages the NHA once it is created?

The Caddo Lake proposal would have created a local commission to coordinate with state and local partners. An equal number of commission members would have come from Louisiana and Texas and included individuals from the forestry and energy industries, and environmental, cultural heritage and tourism groups, and regional partners.

Can this local commission create new taxes?

No.

How would being an NHA benefit our region?

NHAs can receive federal funds to commemorate, conserve and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural and recreational resources. An example of the beneficial opportunities provided to NHAs can be found at the Cane River National Heritage Area in Natchitoches. Last year, in partnership with the Natchitoches Parish Library and the City of Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area created the Pierson and Mallet Children’s Park Reading Trail. The trail is designed to feature a children’s story book that focuses on Louisiana history or a Louisiana author. Each sign depicts pages from the selected story, along with a physical activity for readers. The NHA also sponsors heritage events and programs such as music and folk life festivals that contribute to the interpretation, education and public awareness of the Cane River culture. According to a 2017 study, since 1994, the Cane River National Heritage Area has leveraged $37.4 million and created 1,500 jobs.