County map of Kentucky with blue checkmarks on counties included in this study.

Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study

Denver Service Center » Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study » Document List

Welcome to the Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study project website. The National Park Service will use this website to display public information throughout the course of this study. Meeting dates and locations will be posted here, along with project updates.

Project Background
Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, Title XVIII, "Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Study." (P.L. 116-94)

Congress passed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94) on December 20, 2019 that included a feasibility study to potentially designate the "Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area." Working collaboratively with local stakeholders, subject matter experts, and the general public, among others, the study team will evaluate the level of widespread public support an National Heritage Area (NHA) designation and a commitment from key constituents who would have the ability to manage the NHA. The Kentucky Wildlands NHA study area includes the counties of Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Elliott, Floyd, Green, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitely, and Wolfe counties (41 in total); as well as other areas of the state with heritage aspects similar to those counties.

What is a National Heritage Area?

A National Heritage Area is a place designated by Congress where natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These patterns make National Heritage Areas representative of the national experience through physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved in them. Continued use of National Heritage Areas by people whose traditions helped to shape the landscape enhances their significance. The National Park Service (NPS) provides technical, planning and limited financial assistance to National Heritage Areas. The NPS is a partner and advisor, leaving decision-making authority in the hands of local people and organizations.

National Heritage Area designation follows a two-step process: completion of a feasibility study and introduction of authorizing legislation in the U.S. Congress. To be considered for NHA designation, certain key elements must be present in the area. First and foremost, the landscape must have nationally distinctive natural, cultural, and historic resources that, when linked together, tell a unique story about our country. The feasibility study provides the U.S. Congress and the NPS with the information they need to determine if designation is suitable. 

Staying Engaged

We welcome your participation throughout this process. Please let us know what is unique about the counties identified in southeast Kentucky that would make the area nationally significant. To provide information to help support the study, we seek responses to the following questions:

Does the region have a collection of natural, cultural, and historic resources that when linked together, help to tell a nationally important story?

What makes southeastern Kentucky a nationally distinctive area and how does the 41-county study area contribute to, or exemplify a distinctive aspect of America's national heritage?

What unique American stories are being told in the area and why is southeastern Kentucky the area that best to tell them?

Do opportunities exist for improving the quality of resources through conservation, recreation and education?

Is there an organization, or a number or organizations that have the financial and organizational capacity to coordinate the management of a national heritage area?

Is there public support for a national heritage area designation?

We will be engaging feedback through public meetings (TBD). This website will be updated regularly with information to keep you informed, as well as request feedback as needed. We hope you will continue to be engaged as we move forward with this feasibility study. Thank you for your interest.

Contact Information

Julie Bell
Project Manager
National Park Service- Denver Service Center

Elisa Kunz
National Heritage Areas Coordinator
National Park Service- Southeast Regional Office