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This week Utahns have been commemorating their pioneer past.
Beyond the annual state holiday, a bill to more permanently preserve the state’s remarkable heritage of western colonization is before Congress.
The measure introduced in April by Senator Bob Bennett would, in fact, establish the historic Highway 89 corridor from Kanab through Fairview and Thistle as a National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area.
With the designation would come funding, up to a million dollars a year for ten years, to subsidize restoration of structures, along with providing financial incentives for establishing and maintaining interpretive exhibits in the area.
In short, creation of the Heritage Area would celebrate one of the most successful colonization efforts in the history of the United States, while contributing to the economic vitality of half a dozen counties and some 45 cities and towns.
An increase in tourism should accompany the designation, which would help offset the decline in traditional forms of economic support such as agriculture and the development of natural resources.
KSL believes Senator Bennett is onto something with his proposal. Highway 89, with its quaint towns and storied past, is an historic and cultural treasure. It deserves the boost Heritage Area designation would provide.