March 17, 2021

Louisiana Delegation Introduces Bill to Preserve Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

WASHINGTON – Members from the Louisiana Delegation today introduced a bill to reauthorize the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (NHA) for 15 years, continuing a commitment to sustain the unique heritage of “America’s Foreign Country.”

Originally signed into law in 2006, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Act established the NHA 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. 

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area celebrates Cajun culture and history,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill preserves the celebration while protecting the environment and creating jobs.”

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is a jewel of Cajun culture and Acadiana’s diverse landscapes. I’m happy to join Louisiana’s delegation in working to extend its authorization for another 15 years so Louisianians can keep enjoying its natural beauty and rich history,” said Senator Kennedy

“To put it simply, there is nothing like the Atchafalaya Basin anywhere else on this continent. It is larger, more productive, the source of amazing crawfish and some great people. We need to treasure it, protect it and educate people about all the basin area has to offer from conservation to economic productivity and tourism. The Heritage Area designation helps to highlight and improve the stewardship of the natural resources, culture, and history of this important region,” said Rep. Graves.

“The Atchafalaya Basin is an integral part of South Louisiana’s culture and heritage. I’m honored to join my colleagues in the Louisiana delegation to support reauthorizing the Basin as a National Heritage Area. This designation provides our state with both economic and environmental benefits,” said Rep. Higgins.  

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area will help preserve the unique Cajun and Creole cultures found in the Atchafalaya Basin. Today, I am proud to join my Louisiana colleagues in introducing legislation that will reauthorize this designation to help preserve this special Louisiana landmark,” said Rep. Johnson.

“It’s vital for our state’s culture and unique way of life to preserve and protect the Atchafalaya Basin, and I’m proud to support the Heritage Area reauthorization to enhance conservation efforts and to protect the area’s strong cultural heritage for years to come,” said Rep. Scalise

“The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area highlights the unique flavor of south central Louisiana derived from a blend of people whose cultural traditions are directly related to their storied natural environment. The Heritage Area program serves an essential role to ensure these cultural stories are carried on for future generations,” said Atchafalaya NHA Executive Director Justin Lemoine.

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.