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RFP: Consultants for National Heritage Area Management Plan
Historic Preservation Blog from - RFP, National Heritage Area, Management Plan
Contributed By: Lucille W. Walker
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RFP: Consultants for National Heritage Area Management Plan

Request for Proposal

National Heritage Area Consultant Services
The Southern Maryland National Heritage Area invites proposals for consultant services to produce a Management Plan as a key step towards meeting government standards to be recognized as an operational National Heritage Area.

The Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium (SMHAC) was formed as a Certified State Heritage Area under the Maryland Heritage Area Program in 2003. The heritage area operates under the public facing name Destination Southern Maryland. The heritage area serves Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties. The mission of the heritage area is to enhance Southern Maryland through innovative heritage tourism experiences, comprehensive cultural and natural resource conservation, and excellence in educational opportunities. SMHAC is an economic engine, providing product development and increased economic activity throughout the region through grants, partnership building, and sustaining regional identity.

Destination Southern Maryland, Inc. partners with the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland 501(c)3 non-profit as their fiduciary to be the local coordinating entity that manages programs and projects of the state-designated heritage area.

In December of 2022, Congress designated the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area (NHA). The NHA’s geographic boundaries include Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties and southern Prince George’s County. The NHA is a non-regulatory designation made by Congress to honor and celebrate the region’s contribution to America’s history, while also stimulating heritage-based economic development and geo-tourism in the region.

Southern Maryland History
Southern Maryland is a region of national importance. It is in Southern Maryland, for the first time in the Western world, that religious freedom was codified into law, and this provided the foundation for religious freedom in the Constitution of the United States of America. Southern Maryland is where this founding principle, this basic human right, became law for the first time.

In addition to this primary “first” Southern Maryland is where the first person of African descent ever served in a legislature in America (Mathias de Sousa, 1642), where the first woman ever petitioned for the right to vote (Margaret Brent, 1648), where vital African American history has occurred, and the region is part of the National Park Service Network to Freedom. Southern Maryland has first peoples who have survived and are creating a new legacy (the Piscataway). This region is the location of the National Religious Freedom Byway, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, sites involved with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, WWI and WWII, and the first NASA Space Missions as well as the National Marine Sanctuary of Mallow’s Bay-Potomac River.

Project Overview
The Southern Maryland National Heritage Area seeks a consultant to work with our Executive Director and designated Steering Committee to develop a National Heritage Area Management Plan that will provide for the management, preservation, protection, and interpretation of the cultural, historic, and natural resources of Southern Maryland for the educational and inspirational benefit of current and future generations.

The Management Plan will provide guidance to assist the communities, organizations, and citizens within the NHA in preserving the special historic identity of the region and fostering a close working relationship among all levels of government, the private sector, and local communities. The Management Plan will also strengthen the value of Southern Maryland as an asset by establishing a network of related natural, cultural, and historic resources, protected landscapes, educational opportunities, and events depicting the landscape of Southern Maryland during significant periods in our nation’s history; and establishing partnerships between the NHA and other public and privately owned resources in the NHA that represent strategic alliances and leverage unique interpretive opportunities

Scope of Work
We are looking for potential consultants or consultant teams who can provide guidance and assistance in developing our management plan. We expect the planning to include:

- Civic Engagement Strategy through multiple public meetings and community outreach.
- Asset/resource inventories.
- Conservation and historic preservation stewardship and tourism development strategies.
- Interpretive Plan.
- Business Plan
- Communications Plan
- National Environmental Policy Act compliance.
- Additional elements as required by NPS or identified in our planning process.

The selected consultant team shall agree to provide the necessary personnel and equipment to work with SMNHA, Steering Committee, and National Park Service (NPS) staff to complete the following tasks:

Task 1: Conduct a project meeting with the Director and NPS to:
Review scope of work and confirm project deliverables.
Set communication contacts and procedures.
Develop technical approach/workplan, schedule for site visits, stakeholder and public involvement, project draft submittals, and invoice payments.

Task 2: Visit

existing facilities, infrastructure, local resources in order to utilize comprehensive overview of regional history and character.

Task 3: Address all requirements of the Management Plan included in US Senate Bill 1942:

Update asset/resource inventories. Review and build upon the existing resource inventories from the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area Feasibility Study (2021). (Download the Feasibility Study here).

Develop comprehensive policies, strategies, and recommendations for conservation, preservation, funding, management, and development of the National Heritage Area. Conduct meetings with Steering Committee members and NPS staff to discuss and decide on content, then draft and revise based on NPS comments, and complete documentation.

Create an Interpretive Plan. Incorporate interpretive themes described in the Southern Maryland National Heritage Are Feasibility Study (2021).
Create a Business Plan. The business plan should identify the SMNHA purpose and role, intended audience, services and/or products, and the identification of partnerships, funding sources and implementation schedule.

National Environmental Policy Act compliance. Work with NPS to prepare any necessary environmental compliance documentation. It is anticipated that the Management Plan will qualify for a categorical exclusion. However, such an exclusion will likely need to be documented and submitted as part of the Management Plan.
Coordinate with NPS staff to confirm all agency and legislative requirements are sufficiently addressed in the Management Plan.

Task 4: Create a communications plan which builds on the contents of the Management Plan.
Create a unifying message and public identity for the NHA that aligns with our existing website
Recommend ways to position the NHA to the public and clarify the differences between the NHA as a place and an organization.

Task 5: Develop a civic engagement strategy to engage partners and stakeholders.
Develop virtual community outreach strategy that provides opportunities for remote community participation.
Hold in-person public meetings to gather input for the plan.
Consideration should be given to minority and underserved audiences.
Meet with partners, stakeholders, and government entities to gather input for the plan.
Schedule and facilitate public review meetings to present the draft plan and solicit feedback.
Incorporate public comments, stakeholder input, and revisions from NPS.
Be available to participate in media interviews as requested by the Executive Director.

Task 6: Finalize the Management Plan and deliver products in print and digital form to SMNHA and NPS. The digital document should be in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 so it is accessible to people with disabilities.

Project Schedule:  It is anticipated that this Plan should be developed within 12 – 16 months of start date, with submission for final approval by the NPS and the Secretary of the Interior within 16 -18 months of start date.

Project Budget
The contract will be negotiated at a firm fixed price based on qualifications. Anticipated cost range:  $150,000 - $175,000

Special Note
The Southern Maryland NHA is a newly designated National Heritage Area, but the state-based heritage area has operated as a program of the non-profit Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland since 2003. We can provide background material from our many years of developing successful projects and programs. We also have a variety of partner relationships and Board members and Steering Committee members who will provide guidance and expertise throughout the process of developing the Management Plan.

Qualified consultants must be well versed in project management and have significant experience developing management plans, interpretive master plans, and historic preservation plans similar in nature to that which is proposed for this project. A summary of capabilities and experience must accompany the proposal, along with a list of references related to such experience and a summary of qualifications for key staff for the project.  Additional consideration will be given to the degree of familiarity with Southern Maryland, and with the history and heritage of the region.

Please address:
List team members and the role that each will fulfill.
Describe the team’s experience with National Heritage Area Management Plans, regional planning, or with specific components such as community engagement and collaboration, conservation, stewardship, historic preservation, community revitalization, tourism development, interpretive plans, business plans, marketing plans, NEPA compliance, or other relevant potential elements to a NHA Management plan.
Describe the team’s experience working with rural, multi-county initiatives.
Describe your team’s experience, connections, or familiarity with the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area or the communities within our area.
Please send, link, or attach examples of up to three previous planning products, including any NHA management plans or plan components that you have been instrumental in developing.

Describe your team’s process for engagement with our core planning team, and steps toward completing this planning process over the next year.
Provide up to three references and provide contact information.

Submitting Proposals
Proposals should address:
Process for developing the National Heritage Area Management Plan and its contents.
Project schedule which identifies key milestones in the planning process.
Project Management Team experience, qualifications and references, as described
Detailed budget by task.
No more than 8 pages.

Please submit proposals electronically to:

Proposals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on March 31, 2023

Contact Lucille Walker, Executive Director, 301-343-2771,

Online Resources
Public Law 116–9 116th Congress: 116publ9/pdf/PLAW-116publ9.pdf (133 STAT. 771-776)

NHA Management Plan guidance by NPS:

NEPA Guide for National Heritage Area Management Plans (2013): 2.pdf

Destination Southern Maryland website:

Keywords: RFP, National Heritage Area, Management Plan

Posted: March 16, 2023
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