Let us talk about National Heritage Areas, in particular about Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) in Missouri and Kansas. I have a few questions:

Did you know you are in a National Heritage Area?

National Heritage Areas claim to be in partnership with the National Park Service to preserve heritage, attract tourism and grow the economy. Who is threating the local heritage? What is the local heritage? Does the National Park Service do a better job at promoting local heritage and tourism? What penalties will citizens living within the NHA endure should they fail to preserve heritage?

How has Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area contributed to your county? Has FFNHA brought jobs, growth and development? How has FFNHA enhanced current market establishments since it’s establishment in 2006? Do they participate in car shows? Fairs? 4- H? High School football games? Local restaurants and hotels? Concerts?

What do National Heritage Areas do with the money? What method does FFNHA use to determine how the federal dollars and matching state donations should be spent? Why is most of the money going to the city of Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas? Do taxpayers in Missouri know their dollars are being spent in Douglas County, Kansas.

That 2006 law that established FFNHA requires that the NHA be self-sufficient within 15 years. Of all the National Heritage Areas that are older than 15 years, I cannot find one that is self-sufficient. Every one that I have found, is still funded by Congress. FFNHA hits the 15 year limit in October of this year. It will come before Congress with 29 other NHAs that failed to follow the law requiring them to become self-sufficient.

In the same law that requires NHAs to be self-sufficient in 15 years, is another law. It is not to use federal funds to influence or purchase personal property rights. Did you know your land is in a National Heritage Area? Do you know that NHAs are federal boundaries created by Congress? Did the FFNHA send you a letter back in the early 2000s informing you that your land would be incorporated into a federal boundary? Did you know that three NHAs are now national parks?

Who are the stakeholders of National Heritage Areas? How much land have they acquired and donated to NHAs? Who are the Stakeholders for Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area? Not one citizen can request information from a NHA through the Freedom of Information Act because NHAs are not government agencies. Which is odd, given that their management plans must be approved by the National Park Service under the Department of Interior guidelines.

Have you seen Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area’s management plan of preservation and conservation for all of these counties? Who are the board members of FFNHA that are managing these preservation and conservation plans? How many board members own businesses? How many are in agriculture? Is your county being solicited for new zoning regulations? Have they already been solicited, adopting new regulations?

These are some of the questions property owners and people who depend on earning a paycheck in order to pay their bills should consider as Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area legislation comes before Congress, since our President has produced an Executive Order demanding 30% of the U.S. be preserved by 2030.

I have considered these questions and I don’t even live in a National Heritage Area. I live next door to one. Not realizing that only Congress can change national borders, such as the borders of NHAs, my county commissioners attempted to join Freedoms Frontier National Heritage Area whose eastern edge, borders our county line. They passed that resolution for citizens in my county about the same time they considered regulations that would ban livestock fencing in the entire county. They also tried to zone everything outside of the city limits as a park. How much money was my county promised?

We do have a heritage here in the Flint Hills of Kansas. We are livestock producers. Regulating us out of business is not protecting our heritage.

I will be giving a presentation at the El Dorado Springs Community Center on September 30th. Come and learn about the programs that threaten your property rights and what you and your county commissioners can do to protect your property. This is a free event. Paid for by me, because this conversation really is that important.

Angel Cushing

Lyon County, KS

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