Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lawmakers Propose Two National Heritage Areas in Mississippi

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to establish two national heritage areas in Mississippi.

U. S. Reps. Roger Wicker and Bennie Thompson are advancing this effort in the House. They introduced the bill Wednesday. The measure would include the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area in north Mississippi, and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area that would span 18 counties throughout the Delta.

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designed to commemorate and promote areas that contain important natural, historic, cultural, or recreational resources. The designation would create a partnership among the National Park Service, the state, and local communities. The Congressmen said the move would draw more national attention to the region and its attractions as well as produce funding opportunities for wide-ranging promotional activities.

The Mississippi Heritage Hills Area is bounded by Interstate 55 on the west and Highway 14 to the south and covers 30 counties including Itawamba. "There are unique stories of cultural and historical significance all across north Mississippi," Rep. Wicker said. "Gaining heritage area designation would enable those stories to be promoted and shared with a larger audience." He noted the leadership of the Heritage Hills Alliance and organizations throughout the 30 county area for their work in coordinating the project.

The initiative would also benefit the state's economy by boosting tourism opportunities, the lawmakers said. There are 37 NHAs across the nation.

For further information, visit the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance.

Photograph: A rural autumn scene in the hills north of Tremont in Itawamba County. Photograph by Bob Franks

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