WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen from Utah and Idaho are advocating for the creation of a national heritage area encompassing parts of northern Utah and southeastern Idaho.
Representatives Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) have jointly introduced the Bear River Heritage Area Study Act.
That proposed legislation would require the U.S. Department of the Interior to study the feasibility of establishing a national heritage area covering the historic Bear River region.
The congressmen say that such a designation would allow local communities in the Bear River area to protect important elements of their heritage and promote the area’s tourism industry.
“All those who are familiar with the Bear River area appreciate its rich cultural and historical heritage,” Moore explained. “The Bear River Heritage Area Study Act is a vital first step toward establishing the Bear River Heritage Area and elevating this important land to a more distinguished classification.”
Simpson echoed that sentiment, saying that the required study will explore the economic opportunities that a heritage area would offer southeastern Idaho.
“I am pleased to join Rep. Moore in this pursuit as we seek to empower small communities (in the Bear River region),” he said.
A national heritage area (NHA) is a federally designated site intended to encourage historic preservation of an area and an appreciation of its historic significance.
There are currently 55 such sites in the United States.
NHAs are not owned or managed by the federal government. They are administered by state governments or non-profit organizations that are designated as local coordinating entities.
NHAs are created by individual acts of Congress. Such areas must meet specific designation criteria, including having a nationally unique natural, cultural, historic or scenic character. Each NHA must also tell “a unique story about the United States.”
As proposed by Moore and Simpson, the Bear River Heritage Area would include seven counties in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho.
The Bear River Heritage Area Study Act is supported by numerous stake-holding groups and organizations.
They include the Bear River Association of Governments; the Cache Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum; the Cache Valley Center for the Arts; the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce; the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau; the City of St. Charles, Idaho; the Folklore Society of Utah; the Franklin County Relic Hall Museum & Historical Site; Friends United for Bear Lake; the Idaho Commission on the Arts; Southeast Idaho High County Tourism; and the Stokes Nature Center.