By David J. Kent
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area encompasses many sites within central Illinois related to our 16th president. The area is also part of the Looking for Lincoln program that brings us so many wayside signs and activities. And it looks like its mandate will be extended until at least 2038.
On Monday, according to their press release, "U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act, which would authorize the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area (ALNHA) until 2038, an additional 15 years past the current expiration date of 2023. The bill would allow Illinoisans and Americans to visit and learn more about the historical and cultural impact of the ALNHA and Lincoln’s legacy for years to come."
Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Both the Senate and House bills are expected to pass and be signed by the president.
Long-time Lincoln afficionado Durbin was instrumental in establishing the ALNHA in 2008, with its goal to promote Lincoln heritage and preservation in Central Illinois. The ALNHA covers 43 counties and includes more than 300 historic sites and five scenic byways. More recently, in 2019, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation introduced by Durbin and Duckworth that expanded the Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois to include Livingston County, the city of Jonesboro in Union County, and the city of Freeport in Stephenson County. That legislation passed the Senate as part of the Natural Resources Management Act.
Lincoln Group of DC President David J. Kent participated in the program's LEAD endeavor in 2019 and has traveled extensively within the ALNHA region on his "Chasing Abraham Lincoln" tours. Twenty-two members of the Lincoln Group toured the area in 2016 under the leadership of the late John Elliff. The area is well-worth the visit for anyone who hasn't been out there.