Lincoln National Heritage Area expansion set
A federal Land Use Bill signed into law last week, S47, included legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., to honor the legacy of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, by expanding the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois to include Livingston County, the City of Jonesboro in Union County and the city of Freeport in Stephenson County.
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Amendment Act, which is part of the Natural Resources Management Act, is designed to increase economic opportunities for Illinoisans working to preserve the historic sites and create new recreation, tourism and educational projects.
Kinzinger was joined by U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., U.S. Rep. Darrin LaHood, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., in sponsoring the legislation.
“President Lincoln is a true American hero who expanded liberty and freedom for many and worked tirelessly to steer our country through some of its most challenging times. Our democracy would not be what it is today without his leadership,” Duckworth said in a news release.
“Our bipartisan law honors Lincoln’s legacy and will bring new opportunities for economic growth to local communities across central Illinois. I’m proud the president signed it.”
“Expanding the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area will give future generations of Illinois residents and visitors the chance to learn about President Lincoln’s lasting legacy in our great state,” Durbin said.
“This bill will also support Illinois communities and help grow the local economy by increasing access to federal grants for preservation and education. I was proud to work with Senator Duckworth to pass this bill in the Senate.”
The existing Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area was established in 2008 and preserves the rich legacy of President Lincoln.
The region includes 42 counties across Central Illinois, stretching from the Indiana border to the Mississippi River, and is one of the largest heritage areas in the nation.
The National Heritage Area generates approximately $260 million in economic impact, supports more than 3,000 jobs and generates $25.5 million in tax revenue.
“I am grateful to our Illinois Congressional delegation for their efforts to pass this legislation and look forward to working with them,” Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition executive director Sarah Watson said.
“By expanding the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area to 43 counties in Central Illinois and the communities of Freeport and Jonesboro, we continue to increase the economic benefit of Heritage tourism through telling the nationally significant story of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln’s 30 years in Illinois.”
The parts of Illinois that would be added to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area under this legislation are of special significance to President Lincoln’s personal and professional life.
These areas are where Lincoln developed his legal career within the Eighth Judicial District.
They are also home to the sites of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates. One of the debates was in Jonesboro.
“I’m proud to be part of the critical lands package legislation, and thrilled that it has officially been signed into law. In addition to protecting and preserving millions of acres of wilderness across our homeland, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area will now expand to include Livingston County, Jonesboro and Freeport,” Kinzinger said.
“This is great news for the Land of Lincoln, as we continue to share the life and legacy of our 16th president with generations to come.”
The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition is the coordinating entity for the 43-county Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
The coalition is a partnership of organizations and individuals dedicated to enhancing the communities and landscapes of Central Illinois through recognition and support of their significant natural, cultural and historical legacies.