A National Heritage Area for Wisconsin Is Proposed

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Wisconsin’s first National Heritage Area has been proposed. This designation would help to present to visitors the story of Marquette and Joliet who explored Wisconsin using the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers in 1673.

From Doug Erickson of the State Journal (8/2/2010):

Two Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced federal legislation to create Wisconsin’s first National Heritage Area.

The designation refers to places that have a unique story to tell about American history.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, introduced legislation last week to establish the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. It would become the nation’s 50th National Heritage Area.

The parkway would span 1,400 square miles in 15 counties, including Dane, and mark the path of French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet. The two led a party that canoed the Fox and Wisconsin rivers in 1673 while searching for the Mississippi River.

No money automatically comes with such a designation, but it would provide limited technical assistance from the National Park Service, said Sue Pridemore, National Heritage Area program manager for the Midwest. The parkway would become part of the National Park Service but would be managed by local entities, she said.

“The residents themselves decide which sites they want to preserve,” Pridemore said. “They come up with a game plan for what sets them apart from the rest of the nation.”

Such designations often spur economic development, said Candice Mortara of Appleton, president of Friends of the Fox, one of several Wisconsin groups working on the designation. “This would really bring the history of the area to life and present it in a cohesive way,” she said.

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