Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) will be hosting the Alliance of National Heritage Areas 2022 Fall Conference October 10-14, 2022.

National Heritage Areas are a program within the National Park Service, and are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.  Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Area entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. In 1984, the first National Heritage Area, Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage
Area, was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. In his dedication speech, Reagan referred to National Heritage Areas; a new kind of national park; that married heritage conservation, recreation, and economic development. As of 2022, there are 55 National Heritage Areas designated nationwide.

The Alliance of National Heritage Areas works collectively to protect and promote the people and places that tell America’s stories. We are a membership organization of congressionally designated National Heritage Areas and partner-affiliated organizations promoting the professionalism and benefits of the program through education and advocacy. Together, we facilitate and celebrate partnerships that improve our effectiveness and impact.

National Heritage Areas Program: A Year in Review by the Numbers:

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) expand on traditional conservation approaches by supporting large-scale, community-driven initiatives that engage communities in heritage preservation activities. NHA entities collaborate with stakeholders to determine how to make heritage relevant to local needs and interests. These entities serve as catalysts for community and economic development.

In 2021, despite unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic and closures, NHAs continued to serve communities and support their partners. In summary, NHAs:

• Leveraged $76 million in cash and in-kind support to carry out heritage projects and programs, greatly increasing the impact of the $22.8 million in federal Heritage Partnership Program funding received.
• Engaged 2,901 formal partners and 5,102 informal partners in heritage area activities.
• Benefited from 21,803 volunteers contributing over 281,649 hours for heritage area projects – a $7.6 million-dollar value.
Preserving our Heritage. Across the country, National Heritage Areas and their partners are reviving historic downtowns, preserving large landscapes and cultural practices, and sharing our nation’s history through the arts.

In 2021:
• 64 historic sites and 8,639 acres of cultural landscapes preserved and maintained, including battlefields.
• 63 collections projects undertaken, including the conservation of artifacts and creation of oral histories.
• 74 historic preservation grants awarded totaling $972,188.85. Recreation and Conservation. Through recreational projects such as access to land and water trails, National Heritage Areas are improving connectivity and accessibility, creating more vibrant and healthy communities.

In 2021:
• 153 recreation projects undertaken.
• 574 miles of trails maintained and 30 new miles of trails developed.
• 71 recreation grants awarded totaling $729,210.81.
• Conservation activities led by National Heritage Area entities and their partners improve air and water quality and support healthy ecosystems.

In 2021:
• 23,471 acres of land restored and maintained via invasive species; removal, replanting, and toxic site clean-ups.
• 46 conservation grants awarded totaling $1.5 million. Educating Current and Future Leaders. Through programs such as Mountains to Sound Greenway NHA's Equitable Green Opportunities for Youth in Highline, National Heritage Areas and their partners are providing meaningful and inspirational connections to our nation’s heritage via educators and the (outdoor) classroom.

In 2021:
• Capacity-building assistance provided to 1,306 organizations.
• 250 educational programs were offered.
• 308 grants to support educational programs were awarded totaling $1.4 million.

In October, 55 National Heritage Areas from across the country are invited to visit and tour the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area which encompasses 3,000 square miles consisting of Alamosa County, Conejos County, and Costilla County. With 11,000 years of documented human habitation, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a crossroads of the centuries. Here a unique blend of Native American, Hispano and Anglo settlement is reflected in the diversity of the people, art and traditions. The geographic isolation of our high desert valley and the peoples’ enduring ties to the land have given rise to a rich cultural heritage and ensured its preservation. The area’s fertile cultural landscape is complemented by remarkable natural resources, including the mighty Rio Grande, majestic Rocky Mountain peaks, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, Baca National Wildlife Refuge, and the high mountain desert, all of which lend the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area an unparalleled beauty that offers a sense of
retreat and a powerful source of inspiration for visitors.

SdCNHA is inviting partners and local businesses to donate products, stickers, brochures, etc. for gift bags for our visitors, allowing them to take home a little of bit of the San Luis Valley. Or, if your business would like the opportunity to be a sponsor of the conference please contact Alina Marquez at 719-580-8044.

If you or someone you know is interested or has any questions please send an email to or call 719-580-7366.