Downeast Maine National Heritage Area

A Community Guided Program

The Downeast Maine  National Heritage Area supports programs and partnerships that connect people with the stories, experiences, natural environment, and culture shaped by the many, many generations of lives lived here, at the interface of a vast network of inland forests and waterways, the rugged Atlantic Ocean, and three sovereign Nations.

The Downeast Maine National Heritage Area program is designed to support five core VALUES shared by communities across the region.  These are:

  1. Sustainable economic development
  2. Healthy environment and people
  3. Education and Stewardship
  4. Community Engagement and Pride
  5. Regional Collaboration
What is the Status of the Downeast Maine NHA Program?

We are currently in the midst of creating a Heritage Area Management Plan. This plan is required by the National Park Service after National designation is approved and before the NHA is eligible for an increase in their Federal funds to facilitate program implementation.

The Management Plan lays out detailed strategies to develop, promote and manage National Heritage Area initiatives according to the priorities identified in the Feasibility Study and during the Management Planning phase.  The Management Plan outlines goals, objectives, strategies, and actions that will achieve the regional Vision and Mission for the National Heritage Area program.

This stage of NHA development includes extensive public outreach with local, state, tribal, regional, federal partners and stakeholders who collectively represent all aspects of the nationally important story.

The Management Plan must:

  • Incorporate an integrated, cooperative approach for the protection, enhancement, and interpretation of important natural, cultural, historic, scenic, and recreational resources.
  • Allow and document public participation processes and opportunities for stakeholders and other interested parties to:
    • be involved in the planning process
    • review and comment on drafts of the management plan
Crystal Hitchings


Please contact Crystal Hitchings, Director of Community Promotion

Phone: 207-707-2057


NHA Designation Began with Local Blueberry Farmers

The initiative to seek designation as a National Heritage Area began with local farmers who sought to save the wild blueberry industry as well as the associated cultural legacy and the biodiversity that wild blueberries support. Over time, the conversations these farmers had begun many years before evolved  to reveal a collective regional passion to preserve the landscapes and culture that define this place.

What is a National Heritage Area?

The National Heritage Areas Program was created in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan as a method for preserving the story of America’s heritage through local, community-led efforts.  NHAs are Nationally distinctive landscapes where human activity and natural features have influenced each other and evolved together over time, and where this unique interplay has influenced the Nation’s heritage. National Heritage Areas are living, working landscapes where industry, art, history, nature, and culture continue to evolve and tell the distinctive story of a place.

NHAs foster collaborative, community-driven heritage conservation and economic development.  The program provides a tool for citizens to shape the long-term future as stewards of their community heritage through fostering community awareness and pride of place.

NHAs are managed at the local level by a nonprofit organization and oversight team that likely includes your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and community leaders.

    NHAs are created through legislation brought forward to Congress by local stakeholders and their Congressional delegates. After 2 years of Feasibility planning, the Downeast Maine National Heritage Area was designated by Congress and signed into law on January 5, 2023.. The designation includes both Washington and Hancock Counties, as their heritage stories are deeply intertwined.

    Burning the blueberry barrens

    62 NHAs across the country capture a wide diversity of the nation’s shared experiences and strengthen local economic and community development initiatives.

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