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    Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area reauthorized for 15 years


    Waterloo, IOWA – Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) has been reauthorized by congress for another 15 years.


    “We are thrilled with the passing of this legislation. It will allow Silos & Smokestacks to focus on supporting the sites and attractions that make up the heritage area,” said Cara Miller, executive director of Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area. “We no longer have to worry every couple of years whether we will exist or not.”


    In one of the last acts in the 117th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the National Heritage Area Act (S. 1942) by a bi-partisan vote of 326-95. Days earlier, the Senate passed the same bill without opposition.


    The National Heritage Area Act creates standard criteria for the management and designation of National Heritage Areas (NHA) across the country and authorizes existing NHAs through 2037.


    “The National Heritage Area Act is a testament to the tremendous work National Heritage Areas do within communities across America,” said Sara Capen, chairwoman of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA). “It is a direct reflection of the determination and resilience that is not only the bedrock of National Heritage Areas, but also the history of the places and people National Heritage Areas represent.”


    Silos & Smokestacks headquartered in Waterloo, Iowa, is one of 45 heritage areas that have been reauthorized. Silos & Smokestacks was established in 1996 and is the only National Heritage Area in Iowa. To date, it’s the only heritage area designated by congress to tell the story of American agriculture.


    President Ronald Reagan established the first National Heritage Areas in 1984. Rather than an enclosed park, NHAs are lived-in spaces that often span large geographic areas that cross multiple jurisdictions. Boasting more than 100 heritage area sites and attractions, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area covers 21,000 square miles in 37 counties in northeast Iowa.


    “We can now move forward to provide the technical and financial support, assistance, and advice, our sites deserve,” said Miller. “We are so grateful to Iowa’s federal legislators who supported this bill.”


    NHAs are administered by a local coordinating entity and receive federal funding through the Department of Interior. Importantly, they do not impact the private property rights of existing landowners within or adjacent to an NHA designation. The National Park Service (NPS) provides technical assistance and a strong partnership for NHAs. NHAs match every federal dollar they receive with an average of $5.50 in state, local, and private contributions. A 2012 study determined that NHAs are responsible for a nearly $13 billion of economic impact in the communities they serve.


    “Establishing a system for National Heritage Areas will help breathe new life into the historic preservation movement in America,” said Alan Spears, senior director for Cultural Resources for National Parks Conservation Association. “Our history, complicated as it may be, serves as a rallying point for Americans of different backgrounds and ideologies. This piece of legislation exemplifies what our country can do when we stand together to protect our shared legacy.”


    Through a network of sites, programs and events, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area tells the story of farm life and agribusiness—past and present. Visitors can learn about and experience agriculture at a variety of museums, historic sites, and farms. One of 55 federally designated heritage areas in the nation, Silos & Smokestacks works in partnership with the National Park Service. The heritage area covers 37 counties in the northeast quadrant of Iowa. To plan your visit or to learn more, visit


    The Alliance of National Heritage Areas works collectively to protect and promote the people and places that tell America’s stories. ANHA is a membership organization of congressionally designated National Heritage Areas and partner-affiliated organizations promoting the benefits of the program through education and advocacy. To learn more about National Heritage Areas, their value, and their work, please visit


    “The Alliance of National Heritage Areas is profoundly grateful for the tireless leadership and support we have received on a bipartisan basis within Congress and look forward to serving our communities for an additional 15 years.”




    PHOTO 1: Visitors to Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy feed a calf during a tour of the farm in Hudson, Iowa.


    PHOTO 2: A bird’s eye view of Park Farm Winery in Durango, Iowa


    PHOTO 3: A woman hard at work on the 1900s farm at Living History Farms, in Urbandale, Iowa.

    Topics: Press Releases