I also want 2016 to be a time to celebrate what, on any given day, we may lose sight of. We live in one of the most unique and special areas in the United States. Our history from the native Ohlones to fruit orchards to technology campuses is epic, our population is richly diverse – we speak over 100 languages and dialects -- our climate is unparalleled in the world and our natural beauty is stunning. These attributes are important not just to us but to the rest of the nation. This year, we are embarking on a mission to have the U.S. Congress designate Santa Clara County as a National Heritage Area. NHA is a program within the National Park System that recognizes and supports places where culture, history, traditions and resources blend together to tell important stories about our nation and the American experience. Boy, do we have a story.
There are 49 NHA areas in the U.S., but none in California or on the West Coast. We want to be the first in the West. A key aspect of the process is public involvement, especially in the development of a feasibility study. A steering committee has been working for months to gather support for this pursuit... You’ll learn more about how to get involved in the coming months because I am proposing a public Task Force to guide the NHA study, which will report to the board’s Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee on an ongoing basis. There are benefits to this designation. It will give us access to federal grants and the ability to leverage funds and long-term support for projects. We might create a natural history or multicultural museum and resource center. Something the Smithsonian has expressed interest in. Or connecting our trail system with interpretive signs or developing new art and performance venues. I know that Silicon Valley is already on the map, but there is more to us than the world knows. Let’s tell the whole story of Santa Clara County on our way to becoming a National Heritage Area.