Congratulations to everyone in Douglas County and the region who worked so hard to gain federal recognition of a national heritage area in eastern Kansas and parts of western Missouri.
The heritage area, which will focus on the region's Civil War history, received final approval in Congress last week and awaits the president's signature. The designated area covers Douglas County and 28 other Kansas counties, along with 12 counties in western Missouri.
Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau is among the local residents who worked for four years to obtain the federal designation, which she described as a major boon for the area. Heritage areas can qualify for up to $10 million in federal grants over a 15-year period. Billings said that funding is expected to be used to enhance historical sites and exhibits and pursue new projects, such as trails connecting various historical sites.
As Billings noted, the federal designation is a well-deserved recognition of the important role events in this region played in the development of the nation. It also is a recognition of a lot of hard work by Billings and other area residents who pursued this lofty goal.
The federal designation is an important first step in a project that offers many great opportunities to promote tourism and education related to this region's rich history.