April 30, 2009

All carrot and no stick?

By Danielle Abbott, BHG News Service

Do you bask the landscape of the Missouri River basin throughout North Dakota? Is heritage, the history of our state and preserving that history for future generations to witness and experience important to you? If you answered yes to the previous questions, then you are in luck. On March 30, President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. This act included more than 160 bills covering a broad spectrum of public lands, historic sites and battlefields. According to GovTrack.us, a database of federal legislation, the bill received support in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, and this legislation established a new system of public lands, which will protect an estimated 26 million acres of American heritage. This massive bill directly affects not only the state of North Dakota, but five counties that lie on either side of the Missouri River. Inside of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, there are ten newly created heritage areas, including the Northern Plains National Heritage Areas. According to the bill, the NPNHA will consist of a core area of resources in Burleigh, McLean, Mercer, Morton and Oliver counties. A national heritage area is defined as a preservation of history in areas of distinctive human impact on the landscape. While the National Park Service does provide assistance with establishing areas, they do not have an ongoing role. According to the NPS’ website, heritage areas are not a unit of the park service, and the land involved is not owned or managed by the park service, instead their involvement is advisory in nature. Though the NPNHA may seem new to many local residents, the pursuit of this area began several years ago. Tracy Potter, president of the Northern Plains Heritage Foundation stated that he began working on this project in 2005.



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