December 15, 2023

Cassidy, Louisiana Delegation Introduces Bill to Preserve, Extend Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

WASHINGTON – Members of the Louisiana Delegation led by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced a bill to include Lafourche Parish within the boundary of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (ANHA) continuing a commitment to sustain the unique heritage of “America’s Foreign Country.”

“A paragon of Cajun culture and a sportsmen’s paradise, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is a celebration of the history of Louisiana,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill extends the footprint while preserving the land and creating jobs.”

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is a gem of natural beauty and Louisiana history. I’m happy to join our delegation in working to expand the area so Louisianians can enjoy more of Acadiana’s Cajun culture and diverse landscapes,” said Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). 

“From Cajun cuisine and Zydeco music to our bayous and abundant natural resources, Louisiana has an unparalleled culture and heritage and is home to some of the most unique and special landscapes and traditions in the world. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area protects our region’s storied culture and resources, and I’m proud to lead the effort with my congressional delegation colleagues to ensure that Lafourche Parish – the only parish in the historic boundary area left out of the original designation – is included in this important National Heritage Area,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA-01). 

“The expansion of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area to include Lafourche Parish is wonderful news for Louisiana,” said Representative Julia Letlow (R-LA-05). “Not only will it enhance economic development in the region, it will improve quality of life and provide a clean environment to enjoy. I’m proud to join my colleagues in the Louisiana delegation for this expansive effort and look forward to watching this nationally historic landscape thrive.”

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is an integral part of South Louisiana’s culture and history,” said Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA-03). “I’m honored to join my colleagues in the Louisiana delegation to introduce legislation expanding the covered area. We are working to ensure Louisianans and tourists from all over can enjoy this unique landscape and its contributions to our state’s culture.”

“As the representative of the east and west boundaries of the Atchafalaya Basin, it is evident that the people and culture of Lafourche Parish are inextricably linked to the heritage of this nationally significant region that I have the honor to represent,” said Representative Garret Graves (R-LA-06). “We were proud to author the reauthorization of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area last year, and it is rewarding that colleagues from all parts of the state have come together to embrace Lafourche Parish and ‘America’s Foreign Country’ – the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area.”

“By expanding the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area to include Lafourche Parish, we are preserving Louisiana’s diverse heritage. I’m proud to partner with the entire Louisiana delegation to celebrate our state’s rich natural, cultural, and historic resources,” said Representative Troy Carter, Sr. (D-LA-02).

“Designated by Congress, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area raises local, regional, and national awareness of the Atchafalaya region and the uniqueness of our Louisiana culture, heritage and invaluable natural resources. Historically bounded by Bayou Teche and Bayou Lafourche, Lafourche Parish was left out of the original designation, and we are pleased to see Leader Scalise’s leadership to modify the boundary to include Lafourche Parish in this legislation,” said Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson, III. 

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area program has preserved and enhanced the cultural, recreational, and natural resources of the region since its designation in 2006. The vitality of our communities is what makes this region so culturally strong. With the addition of Lafourche Parish, a place so rich with natural resources and a strong Louisiana identity, our Atchafalaya story is complete,” said Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Executive Director Justin K. Lemoine.

 Originally signed into law in 2006, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Act established the National Heritage Area for 15 years in the following parishes: St. Mary, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Landry, Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee, Iberville, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafayette, West Baton Rouge, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, and Ascension. In early 2023, the Atchafalaya NHA was reauthorized to continue work until 2037. 


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 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, the National Park Service 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.