WASHINGTON, DC – President Biden signed the National Heritage Area Act (S. 1942) into law yesterday, reauthorizing Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area for another 15 years and supporting the history of the Civil War along the Missouri-Kansas border. Sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), the bill guarantees property, hunting and fishing rights and enables Freedom’s Frontier to continue fostering economic development in the region through its long-term support of local history museums and heritage sites.
“Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area brings tourists interested in our history to communities up and down the state line,” said Lucinda Adams, executive director of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. “And every time tourists eat at our restaurants, purchase gas, and stay in our hotels, it supports local economies. We can honor our historical importance — whether as one of the birthplaces of the Civil War or the hub of westward expansion and the enduring struggle for freedom — and benefit from tourism dollars at the same time. This 15-year reauthorization takes a tremendous burden off our staff and will allow us to focus on our amazing programs and partners.”
President Ronald Reagan established National Heritage Areas in 1984 when he signed a bill that created the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. Since then, 54 additional NHAs have been created across the United States, all through community-led efforts. Rather than an enclosed park as is typical of other programs administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are lived-in spaces that often span large geographic areas that cross multiple jurisdictions, including a total of 591 counties in 34 states.
“We have had strong bi-partisan support for our historical significance in the Civil War,” said Kevin Wood, FFNHA trustee chair. “Senator Blunt, U.S. Representatives Sharice Davis (D-KS), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) all worked to finalize the legislation and ensure that tourists and our school children will learn the national significance of our states to the national history of the Civil War.”
Freedom’s Frontier receives matching funds through the National Park Service but is not a National Park unit. Importantly, it is prohibited by federal law from impacting private property rights, or hunting and fishing rights, of existing landowners within or adjacent to Freedom’s Frontier. NHAs match every federal dollar with an average of $5.50 in state, local, and private contributions, and a 2012 study determined that NHAs are responsible for a nearly $13 billion economic impact in the communities they serve.
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) is dedicated to building awareness of the struggles for freedom in western Missouri and eastern Kansas. Its themes are the settlement of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War and Civil War, and the enduring struggle for freedom. These diverse, interwoven, and nationally important stories grew from a unique physical and cultural landscape. FFNHA inspires respect for multiple perspectives and empowers residents to preserve and share these stories. We achieve our goals through interpretation, preservation, conservation, and education for all residents and visitors.
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area