The Willa Cather Foundation is not seeking designation of a National Heritage Area in south-central Nebraska as Gov. Pete Ricketts has stated, the executive director of the foundation said Thursday.
“Rather, a bi-state group of volunteers in north-central Kansas and south-central Nebraska has been working to explore the merits of a National Heritage Area designation,” Ashley Olson said.
That group plans “a feasibility study that would seek feedback from local stakeholders, landowners and residents in the region,” she said.
The organization is called the Kansas-Nebraska Heritage Area Partnership, and Olson is one of its 13 volunteer committee members.
Olson said she and the Cather Foundation “became intrigued with the idea of seeking a National Heritage Area designation after a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students completed a research project that sought to examine ways to increase economic development through a more regional approach to cultural heritage tourism.”
But the foundation “remains focused solely on its mission to promote Willa Cather’s legacy through education, preservation and the arts,” she said.
In objecting to the plan, Ricketts said the national heritage designation would require a national environment policy plan that could act as “a significant barrier (to) infrastructure and other important projects,” perhaps hindering growth and development in the area.