Letters to lawmakers can make a difference

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Share your views with leaders

By Celia McDonald

If you always ignore pleas for letters to contact officials for something you want done – or not done – you are missing a beat. Letters to elected officials do count, even when it’s not what the legislator wants to hear. Enough letters in the mail and the issue and opinions grow with importance.

Let the National Park Service know if you feel the Kentucky Lincoln National Heritage Area is something worthwhile for America, for your home state and town. To double the effect of your letter, copy it to your U.S. Senators and your Congressman. Their influence is important.

The National Park Service is doing a year-long study of the feasibility of adding a Lincoln-focused National Heritage Area to the 49 National Heritage Areas.

Congress has passed legislation directing the National Park Service to study sites associated with “Lincoln’s Kentucky” to determine if they meet the criteria for designation. Sites include the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, the Boyhood Home and downtown Hodgenville including the Lincoln Museum and the Adolph A. Weinmann statue; Lincoln Homestead State Park and Mordecai Lincoln House in Springfield; Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park near Nicholasville; Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville; Mary Todd Lincoln House and the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington; the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History and the New State Capitol in Frankfort; White Hall State Historic Site in Richmond; Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site; the Joseph Holt House near Stephensport; the Lincoln Marriage Temple at Harrodsburg and Elizabethtown sites including the Lincoln Heritage House.

In addition to increasing tourism through funding for marketing, historic preservation and other benefits, funding of $300,000 to $325,000 might be expected per year for the area. The non-profit agency set up to run the heritage area would be independent within a decade or two, said Park Service representative Carol McConnell. The funding available must be matched by local sources.

Such an organization could take advantage of the existing Lincoln network and organizations, McConnell explained. Proposals and management plans would be submitted and one would be chosen as the coordinating agency. LaRue County Judge/Executive Tommy Turner, who chairs the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, suggested that simply converting that group into the Heritage Area coordinators might be the best solution.   

A qualifying area would use natural, cultural, historic and recreational reserves of an area to tell a story important to our nation’s heritage. The role of local communities and stakeholders would shift from advisory to management with the Park Service functioning as technical advisor. The Heritage Area would not be a unit of the Park Service but would include sites such as the Lincoln Birthplace.

Letters or comments supporting the plan should be received no later than Feb. 8. They may be sent to the National Park Service at parkplanning.nps.gov/KELI. Letters will be sent to our Congressional delegation by the Park Service. If you do not wish to use the Internet, you may drop letters at the Lincoln Museum, where an additional packet of letters is being put together.