U.S. Senators and Congressmen throughout the country have long supported National Heritage Areas, and they continue to do so! Recognizing the economic value of National Heritage Areas, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced companion bills to study whether 41 counties in Kentucky could become the Kentucky Wildlands NHA; those bills became Public Law 116-94, as a part of the larger Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.
Here is what Rep. Rogers' press release said about their bills: "Volunteers across Southern and Eastern Kentucky have worked tirelessly to preserve and cleanup the region, and this study brings us one step closer to highlighting their work across our incredible landscape for more visitors to enjoy," said Congressman Rogers. "Senator McConnell and I have worked hard to protect important programs and initiatives for our beloved state, like this Kentucky Wildlands tourism initiative."
"The rich history and scenic beauty of Kentucky’s Appalachian region deserve to be preserved for visitors, families and communities to enjoy, and our bill to tap into this great heritage will help do just that. Promoting the unique culture of the Commonwealth’s wilderness as our first National Heritage Area can encourage new tourism and economic activity in Southern and Eastern Kentucky," said Senator McConnell. "I’d like to thank Congressman Rogers for partnering with me to deliver for this region and the men and women who call it home. As Senate Majority Leader, I was proud to ensure this Kentucky initiative will soon be on its way to President Trump’s desk to become law." (See https://halrogers.house.gov/2019/12/rogers-mcconnell-secure-kentucky-wildlands-national-heritage-area-study-act-in-final-federal-funding-package-for-2020.)
The Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study is progressing, at tax payers expense, through the National Park Service. Want to know more about the Kentucky Wildlands and their work toward becoming an NHA? Their website shows why that area is rich in heritage, deserving of being designated as a NHA, and what the long-term benefits of National Heritage Areas are. "As a National Heritage Area, The Kentucky Wildlands would receive technical assistance and federal funding through a partnership with the National Park Service. The National Park Service is a partner and advisor, leaving decision-making authority in the hands of local people and organizations. The National Park Service does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls." Check out the work that they are doing!