|DATE 03/07/2004 4:29 PM|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.
New Legislation Strengthens State’s Push
|The sense of anticipation about the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area continues to grow in the cities and town along U.S. Highway 89, the Heritage Highway.
The state Legislature approved two bills during this year’s session that complement U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett’s effort to move the national designation forward.
The first bill, sponsored by Sen. Leonard Blackham of Moroni, establishes a Mormon Pioneer Heritage Center in connection with Utah State University. The center will coordinate research and extension efforts in recreation, heritage tourism and agriculture.
“It’s intended to work in conjunction with the Bennett bill,” said Monte Bona, a member of the Utah Highway 89 Alliance, which has been actively supporting the national designation. Bennett’s bill aims to help preserve cultural and architectural treasures of Utah’s pioneer heritage and strengthen opportunities for local heritage-related businesses and products in the state.
“The center will help carry out the responsibilities of the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area and empower communities to preserve and enhance their heritage.”
This includes having extension agents work with local communities to enhance the production of heritage and craft products and develop business tourism plans. The center will also enter into cooperative contracts with the U.S. departments of agriculture and interior, and with state, county, city, public and private agencies.“It’s extremely important to have a center located at a college with the stature of Utah State University, in terms of its involvement in recreation studies, agriculture and agricultural extension,” Bona says. “It will add prestige and faculty expertise to the goals and objectives of the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area.”
The second bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Styler of Delta, establishes the boundaries of the Utah Pioneer Heritage Area, and specifies that the area be labeled as such on all officials maps, signage and other identifying materials.
The area includes U.S. Highway 89 from Fairview to Kanab, the Boulder Loop (state highways 12 and 24), the All-American Road (highway 12) and the six counties through which the route passes: Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Garfield and Kane.
Bona says that the cities and towns in the six-county area are the best remaining example of how Mormon pioneers colonized the west. “The heritage area includes countless examples of rich cultural and architectural history shaped by the early settlers.”
“Both of the approved measures are companion pieces at the state level to the Bennett bill,” Bona says. “We are all pulling for this national designation.”
Traditionally, areas that attain national heritage designation receive millions of dollars in federal funds for marketing, historic preservation and related projects.
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