California's U.S. senators introduced a bill in Congress on Monday to name the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as a National Heritage Area.
The bill by Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer will recognize the Delta as a "nationally important landscape" with unique "natural, cultural, and historic resources."
A similar bill was proposed in 2011. The designation is also supported in the Delta Reform Act of 2009, a state law.
Some critics misunderstood these efforts as an attempt by the government to take over Delta land or impose new rules. That is not the case.
The National Park Service oversees the program, but the designation does not create a national park or impose any rules. It provides only technical assistance and financial aid to help local governments promote the region.
Heritage area status helps promote walking and biking opportunities, historical fairs, preservation efforts, and educational tours.
The Delta would become California's first National Heritage Area. Other heritage areas include the Mississippi Delta, Niagara Falls and the Hudson River Valley.
For information on the program, go to www.nps.gov/heritageareas.