Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Amendment Act
STATEMENT OF DR. STEPHANIE TOOTHMAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS, AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1662, A BILL TO INCLUDE LIVINGSTON COUNTY, THE CITY OF JONESBORO IN UNION COUNTY, AND THE CITY OF FREEPORT IN STEPHENSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, TO THE LINCOLN NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
JUNE 15, 2016
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1662, a bill to expand the boundary of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area (NHA), and for other purposes.
The Department recommends that the committee defer action on S. 1662 until such time as the National Park Service (NPS) determines if this proposed expansion is appropriate. The NHA was authorized on May 10, 2008, to help tell the stories of the places that President Abraham Lincoln lived for almost 30 years. These important sites include the Lincoln Log Cabin, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The NHA includes 42 counties in Central Illinois. The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition (LFLHC), a non-profit organization, was authorized to manage the NHA, which is a consortium of Illinois communities and sites that share the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
Prior to beginning any effort to designate an area as a national heritage area, the NPS recommends that interested community members or organizations undertake a feasibility study to assess several factors, including: whether the landscape has an assemblage of natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources that, when linked together, tell a nationally important story; whether an organization exists with the financial and organizational capacity to coordinate heritage area activities; and, whether the level of support for designation exists within the region.
The LFLHC completed their feasibility study in 2002. The NPS recommends that the LFLHC submit an addendum to their feasibility study that includes a boundary justification for the inclusion of Livingston County, the City of Jonesboro in Union County, and the City of Freeport in Stephenson County, Illinois. The addendum will document that the LFLHC has reached out to these communities and that there is public support for the inclusion of their cities and county in the boundary of the NHA. Additionally, the addendum will ensure that the proposed inclusion of these cities and county supports the original intent of the NHA.
Once the LFLHC completes the amended feasibility study, the NPS will undertake our evaluation as expeditiously as possible. The NPS recommends that the committee defer action until the feasibility study amendment is completed and the NPS can make a determination on the proposed expansion.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.