In Focus - Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Area - Sunday, October 11, 2009, 10:30 A.M.

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Host Bob Lee interviews Vanessa Bechtol, Executive Director, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance. The U.S. House of Representatives just passed legislation to designate the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in southern Arizona. 

Bechtol says she hopes the measure will also be approved by the Senate.  She says a previous House-approved measure in 2007 died in the Senate earlier this year as a result of a political dispute between Jon Kyl and Raul Grijlava over a proposed land swap.  She says it may take up to a year for this new measure to make it through the Senate.  She says concerns that privately-owned land might be taken over by the government are totally unfounded.  She says the legislation just approved includes language specifically protecting private property.  She says neither would private property owners have to grant public access nor would any existing land use plans be affected

At stake, according to Bechtol, are investment opportunities and increased tourism.  She also says there is up to $10 million in Federal funding, with a 50-percent match in local funding, available over a period of 15 years, to carry out preservation efforts.. She says the economic benefits make it a win-win experience for all parties.

The Santa Cruz Valley, from northern Pima County south to the Mexican border, comprises the “National Heritage Area” here.