South Central Missouri 13 County National Heritage Area Proposed
Thirteen south central Missouri counties are being considered for inclusion in a proposed National Heritage Area designation by a West Plains group. Members of the Ozarks Property Rights Congress were made aware of a government funded feasibility study initiated by Ozark Action at their recent meeting.
The targeted counties are Texas, Wright, Douglas, Carter, Dent, Howell, Iron, Oregon, Ozark, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, and Wayne.
According to available information on an Ozark Action letter head, grant money obtained by Ozark Action is being used to hire a Kansas City firm, Jeffrey L. Bruce and Co. to do the study. Mike McGrew of that company says in a release that his company is working with Ozark Action to create an official feasibility document that the National Park Service will review. He says that, “NPS does have specific criteria to follow including resource inventories that document the significant features in a potential National Heritage Area.”
The National Park Service oversees the NHA program and funnels money to a local governing board which regulates the area with Park Service approval. Inclusion in the national program requires an act of Congress and support of the congress person from the district involved.
While supporters of the effort tout it as a way to preserve cultural heritage, opponents see NHA designation as a form of Federal land use zoning. Nationwide, property rights groups oppose the program as a conduit for imposing outside restrictions on private land use.
According to Ozark Action information, The Ozarks Heritage Project is a collaborative effort between the West Plains Council on the Arts, Ozarks Action and Missouri State University-West Plains. The organizers are funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funds received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. There is also funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
MSU-West Plains is providing personnel to fill key positions.