Two members of Congress who represent Shelton are pursuing a plan to designate the Naugatuck River Valley as a National Heritage Area.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes a part of Shelton, will propose legislation to begin the process. They discussed the idea as a press conference Wednesday.

The two elected officials were joined at the event by local business and civic representatives, including Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Jack Walsh, chairman of the Derby Greenway Committee

Study would be conducted

The Naugatuck River Valley National Heritage Area Study Act would direct the U.S. interior secretary to conduct a study to determine if the area is suitable to be named a National Heritage Area.

Designating the Naugatuck River Valley as a National Heritage Area would help create a more coordinated regional preservation and planning effort, according to Blumenthal and DeLauro.

It would also result in technical and planning assistance from the National Park Service. National Heritage Areas are similar to national parks, but remains privately owned.

DeLauro and Blumenthal previously introduced the legislation in 2011. DeLauro represents large parts of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, including Derby.

River flows 40 miles

The Naugatuck River flows about 40 miles from far northwestern Connecticut to Derby, where it empties into the Housatonic River near downtown Shelton. The Route 8 expressway essentially parallels the Naugatuck River north of Derby.

Connecticut currently has two National Heritage Areas: the Upper Housatonic River National Heritage Area (in northwestern Connecticut) and the Quinebaug-Shetucket National Heritage Area (in northeastern Connecticut).