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How To Make Your Letter Count...

AFHA Needs YOUR Support Letter!

In supporting designation for National Heritage Area, a broad range of support letters will be essential. We need to demonstrate that the people who live and work in the AFHA support the effort and believe that AFHA will benefit them.

NEW Commitment letters – The National Park Service has asked AFHA to show that we will have private/local/state resources available to match Federal funds if we get them. These can be cash or in-kind. If you are able to offer specific commitment of resources (time, services, money etc) for AFHA toward organizational efforts or specific projects please send a letter including that intention. If you can put a dollar figure on these services that would be good, but even if not the commitment of assistance will still help. Some examples include:

If you have previously participated in AFHA or otherwise provided support or resources, please state what and how much. If you received an AFHA minigrant, please mention that project, and the local match that you provided for the project.

We also welcome general support letters to add to our support list. Attached you will find drafts of a commitment letter, a resolution and several support letter formats supporting AFHA. A variety of language and talking points are included focusing on different aspects of the project. Any one of these can be adapted directly by an organization offering support or resources, or can be used as a starting point for anyone who wants to write their own letter in their own words.  Each organization is welcome to emphasize the benefits or themes that are most important to you.

A letter can be as short as one sentence, or as long as one page.  Do put the letter on your own letterhead or with personal address, rather than just filling in the blanks, and use a signature.

The essential language for each letter is �support for National Heritage Area designation�.

For commitment letters, or if you or your organization has not previously sent a general support letter -- address letters to Appalachian Forest Heritage Area Council. Send to AFHA, PO Box 1206, Elkins, WV 26241. 

ALSO:  CONGRESSIONAL LETTERS -- Whether or not you have sent the general letter to AFHA, please also send one now to your Senators and Congressperson. Address them to the Member, but then fax or email them to the attention of the staff person(s) we are working with.(see attached list) If more than one staff person is given, especially if they are in different offices,  copy to all. Please also send a copy to AFHA so we know what letters have been sent. Mailed letters to Washington Congressional offices are not advised � due to security they can be delayed several weeks.

As of now (spring 2007) Sen. Rockefeller is taking lead for our Senate bill and Sen. Cardin has agreed to co-sponsor � if you write them thank them for their support. Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Byrd are considering it � urge their support. All of the House members are generally supportive, but none yet have stepped forward to sponsor the bill. Rahall has said that he can not be lead sponsor this year. Mollohan and Capito are considering it. We will also need support from Bartlett of Maryland. We need a lead sponsor in the House, and hopefully each Member who has counties in their district will agree to be a co-sponsor.

Please help get as many support letters as you can in your county.  A broad range of government officials, local leaders and leadership organizations, non-profit organizations, businesses and residents will all be needed.

For questions or more information, see our web page at www.appalachianforest.us, or contact:

            Phyllis Baxter                                                  Appalachian Forest Heritage Area
            AFHA Co-coordinator                                     PO Box 1206
            Phone: 304-636-2467 (home)                         Elkins WV 26241
            Email: phyllisb@meer.net                               304-636-6182 office    FAX 304-636-6432

Thanks for your help!!!   Phyllis

COMMITMENT LETTER EXAMPLE

(fill in services or resources as appropriate, these are just some examples)

 <Letterhead>

Appalachian Forest Heritage Area Council
PO Box 1206
Elkins, WV 26241

Dear AFHA Council,

___________________________________, a (municipality), (organization), (business), (property owner), (resident) in __________ County, (West Virginia), (Maryland) would like to express our wholehearted support for the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and its designation as a National Heritage Area.

The AFHA will bring substantial benefits to our community by building consensus and understanding of forestry and forest issues, increasing awareness, appreciation and conservation of our rich natural heritage and cultural assets, promoting cooperation and partnerships between organizations and localities, and increasing economic opportunity from increased tourism.

Our organization has participated in AFHA activities to date by (regular attendance at meetings) (assisting with task groups working on interpretation, asset inventory, etc.) (completing a mini-grant project which leveraged $ ??? in local match) (providing meeting locations) (providing XXXXX services.)

In the future, we intend to continue this involvement including (participating in planning meetings) (providing support services such as hosting public meetings) (providing technical assistance to identify and evaluate historical and natural resources) (???). We would expect to be able to contribute $ ???? (or $???? per year) in (local, state, private donor) funds towards match for AFHA planning and early action projects OR AFHA will be eligible to apply for xxxx type of funds that we may have available.

Designation of AFHA as a National Heritage Area will assure national recognition of the significance of our regional assets and provide support for our partnership efforts.  For these reasons we urge the designation of the AFHA as a National Heritage Area and look forward to continuing to contribute to this effort.

 

Sincerely,

<Signed>

 

(any of the following letters can be adapted to also commit future participation or resources)

SUPPORT RESOLUTION Format

<letterhead>

 

APPALACHIAN FOREST HERITAGE AREA RESOLUTION 

            WHEREAS the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area has been created as a multi-county project to foster heritage tourism,

and WHEREAS the forest heritage story of how our region helped build America is nationally significant,

            and WHEREAS _________ ( County or community) lies within this Appalachian Forest Heritage Area,

            and WHEREAS _________  stands to benefit economically from development of forest heritage tourism resulting from participation in this project,

            and WHEREAS _________  stands to benefit socially from the recognition and celebration of its historical, cultural, and natural assets as they are highlighted by the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area,

            and WHEREAS working together among several counties and municipalities in two states can increase this county�s return on investment of developing and advertising the heritage sites of our collective area,

            THEREFORE be it resolved that the ______________________________ officially supports participation in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and supports recognition of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area as a National Heritage Area.

 

<Signed>

SUPPORT LETTER FORMAT �  Multiple significance and benefits

<Letterhead or address>

Appalachian Forest Heritage Area Council
PO Box 1206
Elkins, WV 26241

Dear AFHA Council,

___________________________________, a (municipality), (organization), (business), (property owner), (resident) in __________ County, (West Virginia), (Maryland) would like to express our wholehearted support for the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area and its designation as a National Heritage Area.

The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area encompasses a nationally significant key section of the central Appalachian highlands.  These vast forests helped to build and fuel the industrial revolution in the rest of the country.  The rich and complex history of timber harvesting, forest management, and the production of forest products in the AFHA contribute to a vibrant natural resource-based economy and culture.  The temperate hardwood forest hosts a unique biodiversity of plant and animal species.  The central Appalachian culture that has developed from the life in these mountain forests adds a rich dimension to the national story, as the folkways, language, crafts, dance, and music are handed down, and enrich the modern life and culture of today.

A wide variety of sites and events that relate to these stories are already available for visitors.  Federal and state public agencies, non-profit organizations, private businesses and communities throughout the area offer a wide range of opportunities to present forest heritage stories and activities.  Many more are significant and could be developed and interpreted.  The AFHA will link these destinations together and weave the regional cultural richness into cohesive themes.

The AFHA will bring substantial benefits to our community by building consensus and understanding of forestry and forest issues, increasing awareness and appreciation of our rich natural heritage and cultural assets, promoting cooperation and partnerships between organizations and localities, and increasing economic opportunity from increased tourism.

Designation of AFHA as a National Heritage Area will assure national recognition of the significance of our regional assets and provide support for our partnership efforts.  For these reasons we urge the designation of the AFHA as a National Heritage Area.

Sincerely,

<Signed>

SUPPORT LETTER Body � Economic benefits example

 ___________ supports the efforts of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area to develop a network of tourism sites related to forest heritage in the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland.  Forest-related heritage tourism development will foster local economic development that is consistent with the cultural traditions and the resources available to our rural forest-dependent communities. 

We believe this project will bring significant benefits in diversification of economic opportunity, increased tourism and visitor spending, and support for jobs and small business in our area. We support designation of the AFHA as a National Heritage Area because the national recognition and support will help to assure long-term success for the effort.

 

SUPPORT LETTER Body  Forest industry benefits

 The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) has a rich and complex history of timber harvesting, forest management, and the production of forest products.  Resources from these forests helped to build and fuel the industrial revolution in our county.  The forestry story is unique in that major strides in forest health, productivity, management, and wood utilization have contributed to a vibrant and sustainable natural resource-based economy and culture. 

Many urban visitors do not understand that the logging abuses of yesteryear have led to the forestry best management practices of today.  Nor do they understand that the forestry industry today provides jobs for our communities and provides the paper, lumber, panels, furniture, and the multitude of other products that they use every day.  Our rural communities and local industries take pride in our forestry traditions and help to cultivate a forest stewardship ethic.  Forestry-related heritage tourism can fulfill the need for public education among urban and rural populations; thus contributing to an increased understanding of and importance attached to �good forestry.� 

Forest products processing and manufacturing is one of the largest contributors to the economy of the region.  The forest of the Central Appalachian region is both our home and a means of livelihood.  Hunters and hikers, foresters and ecologists, residents and visitors, all value the healthy forests exemplified in the AFHA.

We support the AFHA and its recognition as a National Heritage Area.  We believe that the interpretation and increased understanding provided by the AFHA will benefit our forestry industry, our communities, and our forest.

 

SUPPORT LETTER Body � Conservation benefits

 We support the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) project and designation of the AFHA as a National Heritage Area.  Such designation will help to further the goals of conservation and stewardship of our forest and its heritage.

The AFHA encompasses a key section of the central Appalachian highlands.  The forests in this region form the core of the largest temperate hardwood forest in the world.  The varied topography of the mountains and confluence of northern and southern species create a unique biodiversity of flora and fauna.

The AFHA seeks to empower those who work, live, and recreate in the woods to work together towards a common set of goals for the benefit of the forest they share.  Interpretation of forest sites, products, and issues can provide public education for local communities and visitors about forest ecology, history and culture, and best management practices; this will contribute to healthy discussions of forest-related environmental, social, and sustainability issues. 

To the degree that rural communities and local industries take pride in their forest traditions, stewardship, and conservation, the long-term sustainability of the forest is more secure.  By encouraging visitors to experience and understand forest issues, a more informed constituency will be available to address environmental issues on a national scale.

 

SUPPORT LETTER Body � Cooperation and collaboration benefits

We support the designation of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) as a National Heritage Area.  As a Heritage Area, counties and communities across the region collaborate and work together, supporting each other to provide benefits for the entire region.  Communities grow stronger through local participation and regional networking.  By bringing together diverse interest groups, the AFHA helps the entire region work together to build consensus and common goals, forging a shared approach to use, conservation, and appreciation of our multi-faceted forest.  In building partnerships, AFHA is helping build our future.

 

SUPPORT LETTER Body � Historic and cultural significance

 We are writing in support of the designation of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) as a National Heritage Area.  The history and culture of this unique region of mid-Atlantic highlands tell a nationally important story that should be featured as a national asset.

The Allegheny Mountains form a natural barrier that impacted settlement patterns of the westward migration.  While most western movement went through or around the mountains, a hearty few followed game and Indian trails to form farming communities in the mountain valleys.  The bounty of products harvested from the forest allowed mountain people a level of economic self-sufficiency.  Forged by the relative isolation of the mountain terrain, this self-sufficient culture was maintained here in many ways, even with the pervasive change brought by the lumber boom and industrialization.  Today, traditional crafts, music, folklore, and stories present a window to the rich Appalachian culture, demonstrating artistic creativity, providing entertainment, and shared memory throughout the area.

Timber harvesting also initially bypassed the mountains�leaving them as one of the last eastern forests available, just at a peak period of the nation�s growth.  During the half-century between 1870 and 1920, the upland forests were subjected to such intensive logging that by the end of this period the original forests had been essentially eliminated.  This abundance of wood products was uniquely positioned to fuel the growing U.S economy in the early 20th century.  Nationally known industrial leaders built railroads, developed the timber and coal resources, and established new towns.  The social and economic fabric of the region changed, as self-sufficient farms and small farming communities gave way to lumber mill boomtowns and a wage-based economy.  Raw materials for lumber and pulp, building materials, chemicals, clothespins, and charcoal were shipped out of the state to build other parts of a growing nation.

The lessons learned from the wholesale cutting of the forest during the nation�s industrialization led to scientific forestry management and establishment of public lands such as the Monongahela National Forest and the Fernow Experimental Forest near Parsons, West Virginia.  Today AFHA forests provide beauty, recreation, and peace for people, as well as habitat for the rich forest life. 

We believe the AFHA should be designated as a National Heritage Area in order to tell this powerful, nationally significant story, and to help preserve the outstanding historic and cultural assets of our forest heritage.

  

SUPPORT LETTER Body � General regional recognition

 ___________________________________, is a (organization), (municipality), (business), (property owner), (resident) located in __________ County, (West Virginia), (Maryland) whose purpose is _________________.  We support the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in its mission to work locally to conserve, develop, interpret, and promote a regional network of forest-based resources and experiences in the highlands of West Virginia and Maryland for the enjoyment and appreciation of residents and visitors in order to enhance economic and community development.

We believe that the natural, historic, cultural, and forestry resources of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area tell a nationally significant story.  Recognition, interpretation, and presentation of these stories can bring substantial educational and economic benefits to our region.

Our organization supports the national recognition of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area.  We look forward to participating in Appalachian Forest Heritage Area efforts for the benefit of our community.

  

Talking Points (use to compose your own letter):

  • Designation of AFHA as a National Heritage Area will assure national recognition of the significance of our assets and provide support for our partnership efforts.

  • Our community will benefit economically from development of forest heritage tourism resulting from participation in the AFHA,

  • Forest-related heritage tourism development will foster local economic development consistent with the cultural traditions and resources available to our rural forest communities. 

  • We believe this project will bring significant benefits in diversification of economic opportunity, increased tourism and visitor spending, and support for jobs, forest industry, and small business in our area.

  • The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) is a regional, grassroots effort to integrate central Appalachian forest history, culture, natural history, products, and forestry management into a heritage tourism initiative to promote rural community development.

  • The mission of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is to work locally to conserve, develop, interpret, and promote a regional network of forest-based resources and experiences in the highlands of West Virginia and Maryland for the enjoyment and appreciation of residents and visitors in order to enhance economic and community development.

  • The purpose is to create a sustainable, locally controlled Heritage Area based on forest heritage in the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland. 

  • Existing and potential forest-based historic sites, artisans, manufacturers, and working forests are being developed into a network of attractions providing high-quality products, programs, educational experiences, events, and visitor services.

  • Our community will benefit from the national recognition and celebration of its historical, cultural, and natural assets as they are highlighted by the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area.

  • The interpretation and increased understanding provided by the AFHA will benefit our forestry industry, our communities, and our forest.

  • The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area encompasses a nationally significant key section of the central Appalachian highlands. The temperate hardwood forest hosts a unique biodiversity of plant and animal species. These vast forests helped to build and fuel the industrial revolution in the rest of the country.

  • The rich and complex history of timber harvesting, forest management and the production of forest products contributes to a vibrant natural resource-based economy and culture. 

  • The central Appalachian culture that has developed from the life in these mountain forests adds a rich dimension to the national story, as the folkways, language, crafts, dance, and music are handed down, and enrich the modern life and culture of today.

  • A wide variety of sites and events that relate to these stories are already available for visitors. Many more are significant potential sites if developed and properly presented.

  • National and state-owned public lands, non-profit organizations, private businesses and communities throughout the area offer a wide range of opportunities to present forest heritage stories and activities.

  •  The AFHA will link these destinations together and weave the regional cultural richness into cohesive themes.

  • We believe the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area should be designated as a National Heritage Area in order to tell this powerful, nationally significant story, and to help preserve the outstanding historic and cultural assets of our forest heritage.

  •  Recognition, interpretation, and presentation of our nationally significant stories can bring substantial educational and economic benefits to our region.

  • The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area will bring substantial benefits to our community by building consensus and understanding of forestry and forest issues, by increasing awareness and appreciation of our rich natural, heritage, and cultural assets, by promoting cooperation and partnerships between organizations and localities, and by increasing economic opportunity from increased tourist visitation.

  • We seek to show urban visitors that the wholesale logging of yesteryear has led to the forestry best management practices of today.  Our rural communities and local industries take pride in our forestry traditions and help to cultivate a forest stewardship ethic. 

  • Forestry-related heritage tourism can fulfill the need for public education contributing to an increased understanding of and importance attached to �good forestry.� 

  • Forest products processing and manufacturing is one of the largest contributors to the economy of the region. The forest is both our home and a means of livelihood. 

  • Hunters and hikers, foresters and ecologists, residents and visitors, all value the healthy forests exemplified in the AFHA.

  •  This designation will provide national recognition and significant new grant funding for the area. It WILL NOT create any new regulations, purchase land, affect private landowners, or impact land or forest management decisions. AFHA works only with willing partners, to provide education, interpretation, collaboration, and support for both forest industry and heritage tourism as economic development.

  • Designation of the AFHA as a National Heritage Area will help to further the goals of conservation and stewardship of our forest and its heritage.

  • Our organization supports the national recognition of the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area.

  • The AFHA seeks to empower those who work, live and recreate in the woods to work together towards a common set of goals for the benefit of the forest they share

  • By encouraging visitors to experience and understand forest issues, a more informed constituency will be available to address environmental issues on a national scale.

  • As a Heritage Area, counties and communities across the region collaborate and work together, supporting each other to provide benefits for the entire region. Communities grow stronger through local participation and regional networking.

Questions or comments about site: webster@appalachianforest.us