November 18, 2021

Bill to Preserve Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Passes Senate Committee

WASHINGTON – Today, members of the Louisiana congressional delegation released the following statements after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed their effort to reauthorize the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) in the Senate, and U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the House of Representatives, reauthorizes the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (NHA) for 15 years. The bill is a recommitment to the unique heritage of “America’s Foreign Country.”

The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Act was originally signed into law in 2006 and established the NHA for 15 years. The heritage area spans 14 parishes, including St. Mary, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Landry, Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee, Iberville, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafayette, West Baton Rouge, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, and Ascension. 

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is the home of Cajun culture,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill preserves the unique history of the Atchafalaya region and creates jobs.”

“Designation as a national heritage area provides our state with both economic and environmental benefits. The Atchafalaya Basin is an integral part of South Louisiana’s culture and heritage, and our bill helps preserve those traditions,” said Representative Higgins. 

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area will help preserve the unique Cajun and Creole cultures found in the Atchafalaya Basin. I commend Senate committee approval of our legislation to preserve this special Louisiana landmark, and look forward to this bill receiving a vote before the Senate,” said Representative Johnson.

Stakeholders and elected officials across South Louisiana support the reauthorization including:

  • Acadiana Planning Commission
  • Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
  • Ascension Parish (Parish President Clint Cointment)
  • Avoyelles Parish Police Jury
  • Cajun Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • City of Patterson, LA
  • Concordia Parish Police Jury (President Joseph Parker, Sr.)Louisiana Travel Association
  • Louisiana Travel Association
  • Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitor Bureau
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut
  • South Central Planning and Development Commission
  • South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center
  • St. Mary Parish President David Hanagriff
  • St. Mary Chapter of the Louisiana Landmarks Society
  • St. Mary Chamber of Commerce (President Donna Meyer)
  • St. Mary Parish Tourist Commission
  • Terrebonne Parish Consolidated GovernmentTunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana
  • Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser
  • State Representative Rhonda Butler
  • State Representative Phillip Devillier
  • State Representative Kathy Edmonston
  • State Representative Les Farnum
  • State Representative Bryan Fontenot
  • State Representative Mike Huval
  • State Representative Clay Schexnayder
  • State Representative Phillip Tarver
  • State Representative Jerome Zeringue
  • State Senator Bret Allain
  • State Senator Page Cortez
  • State Senator Ronnie Johns
  • State Senator Fred Mills
  • State Senator Gary Smith 


The Mission of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, America’s Foreign Country, is to build understanding and identity, raising local, regional and national awareness of the Atchafalaya region; to strengthen the fabric of the place; to expand economic opportunities and to increase the community collaboration and involvement within the parishes that constitute the heritage area while supporting a healthier Atchafalaya ecosystem and enhancing natural resource-based recreation opportunities.

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a nationally important landscape. NHAs are not national park units, rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is one of 55 designated by Congress since 1984.