The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor was designated by an Act of Congress on November 10, 1986 to preserve and interpret for present and future generations the nationally significant historic, cultural and natural resources of the Blackstone River Valley.
The Corridor includes 24 cities and towns in Massachusetts and Rhode Island - almost one million people. In the Blackstone Valley, the federally appointed Corridor Commission has acted as a conduit for federally appropriated funding and as an umbrella for a large number of partnerships and collaborative projects. National Park Service (NPS) rangers and other staff are quite visible and active throughout the Blackstone Valley.
The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor was the second national heritage area to be so designated. The idea was an extension of the partnership parks that emerged in the 1970s. In this model, the federal government acquires relatively little property outright. Rather, the NPS plays a coordinating or catalyzing role within land stewardship, planning, preservation, interpretio, and economic development efforts.
The Federal government does not own or manage any of the land or resources in the Corridor, as it does in the more traditional national parks. Instead the NPS, two state governments (Rhode Island and Massachusetts), local municipalities, businesses, nonprofit historical and environmental organizations, educational institutions, many private citizens, and the Corridor Commission all work together in partnerships to protect the Valley's special identity and prepare for its future.
While the designation of the Blackstone Valley as a National Heritage Corridor endures forever, the congressional authorization of the federal Corridor Commission has some time limits imposed by Congress.