The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA), hosted by the University of North Alabama with offices in Florence, was officially designated by Congress in 2009. The MSNHA spans the six counties of north Alabama's Tennessee River waterbasin and was developed to help preserve the history of this region by focusing on three main themes: music, Native American heritage, and the Tennessee River.
MSNHA began to take form in 1999 following a visionary community event, "Muscle Shoals Reconsidered." During this conference, community leaders addressed the issue of how to create a relationship between the cultural aspects of the region and the area's quality of life. Following a second conference, "Muscle Shoals Reconsidered II," two committees were developed to further explore the issue. In 2000, a study of the cultural heritage of the Muscle Shoals Region identified opportunities for coalition building, established an inventory of assets, weighed the liabilities and validated earlier assumptions. The study also helped better define the themes, boundaries and stories of the Muscle Shoals region. In 2001, Alabama Rep. Robert "Bud" Cramer introduced legislation into the House of Representatives directing the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of establishing the MSNHA. The legislation was signed into law in 2002, and the designation was approved in 2009. Congress approved the final draft of MSNHA's management plan in 2014.
About National Heritage Areas
The National Heritage Area (NHA) program, established by the Department of Interior and the National Park Service, recognizes regions throughout the U.S. with significant historical, cultural or natural features that help tell a national story of the country's evolution. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress and must meet strict requirements. For more information, visit the National Heritage Areas website.
MSNHA online store:
Management Plan elements (Please note that although these are labeled "draft," they are the final and federally approved versions.):
Appalachian Gateway Initiative report: