Archaeology Southwest participated in two national heritage area campaigns: the Little Colorado River valley and the Santa Cruz River valley.
National Heritage Areas seek to preserve and celebrate America’s defining landscapes and diverse cultural traditions. National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress in response to community-led campaigns. Designation aims at
- Increased economic growth through heritage tourism
- Care and promotion of natural and cultural resources
- Enhanced educational opportunities about the region’s heritage
The Little Colorado River Valley National Heritage Area initiative began in 2003. After Little Colorado communities demonstrated initial interest, Archaeology Southwest applied for a grant from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund. The grant enabled completion of a feasibility study to determine if the region should pursue designation. Designation did not go forward.
As part of a working group comprised of regional entities and local stakeholders, and with guidance from the National Park Service, Archaeology Southwest managed the initial stages of the Santa Cruz Valley NHA designation effort (2003–2007). These included the preparation of a required Feasibility Study and research that informed key portions of that document. The campaign achieved City of Gastronomy recognition from UNESCO.