Saturday, Nov. 22


Bill creates Lincoln National
Heritage Area    
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[NOV. 22, 2003]  WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, introduced legislation Thursday night that would create the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois. LaHood and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have worked together on this bill, and Durbin is expected to introduce companion legislation in the Senate. All members of the Illinois congressional delegation in the U.S. House, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Yorkville, are co-sponsors of LaHood's bill.

The legislation would build upon the successful Looking for Lincoln project, which was established in 1998 as an Illinois Heritage Tourism Area. This state area helps preserve the legacy of Abraham Lincoln in an eight-county region in central Illinois. The LaHood bill would authorize up to $10 million in federal funding for the project. Any federal amount would have to be matched at least dollar-for-dollar with state, local or private funding. No more than $1 million in federal funds could be awarded annually.

"Abraham Lincoln means so much to the people of Illinois," the congressman said, "and his story and life are so woven into the fabric of our state that it only makes sense to create a cohesive area that would help tell the life story of our country's greatest president. With the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in the near future, we have a tremendous opportunity for people from around the world to discover Lincoln's world. The establishment of this Heritage Area will allow for the promotion of Lincoln's story beyond the walls of the presidential library or a few buildings in Springfield."

LaHood's bill would establish the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in a 41-county area across the central region of Illinois. Outside of Springfield-area Lincoln sites, the Historic Area would include such significant Lincoln sites as Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site; courthouses in Mount Pulaski, Lincoln, Beardstown and Metamora; the Vandalia Statehouse; the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum; and many other Lincoln-related sites.


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The bill would designate the existing Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition as the management entity for the Historic Area. The coalition would help to promote economic, preservation, educational and historical aspects of the designated area. The legislation also aims to create a collaborative framework among communities in the area.

The bill specifically protects private property rights. It does not require any private citizen or entity to participate in or be affiliated with the Historic Area; it does not grant any zoning or land-use power to the management entity; and nothing in the legislation imposes any new rules or regulations.

In addition to his duties on the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, LaHood represents the same congressional district that Lincoln represented during his one term in office, from 1847 to 1849.

[News release from Rep. Ray LaHood,
18th Congressional District]

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