Rep. Axne Introduces Legislation to Protect Iowa’s Only National Heritage Area

April 6, 2021
Press Release

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) introduced the Protecting the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area Act to ensure Iowa’s only National Heritage Area is preserved by extending the authorization for funding and eliminating the federal funding cap. 

“Through over a hundred sites in Iowa, the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area showcases our state’s deep connection with agriculture and rural traditions,” said Rep. Axne. “From the Living History Farms in Central Iowa to the Iowa Dairy Center in Northeast Iowa, Silos and Smokestacks have been telling the story of Iowa agriculture for the last 25 years, and I am proud to work on their behalf in Congress to ensure they can continue to educate and celebrate our state’s heritage with future generations.”  

Currently, funding authorization for the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area expires in September 2021. 

As one of the oldest National Heritage Areas in the country, Silos and Smokestacks are also close to their total funding limit of $17 million – necessitating a small increase in funding in order to continue its operations and outreach. 

The Protecting the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area Act would extend the authorization for 15 years and remove the total funding cap, giving Silos & Smokestacks the certainty and resources to connect more Iowans to its deep history with agriculture. 

“Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area has been telling and preserving the story of American agriculture for 25 years,” said Cara Miller, Executive Director of the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area. “Agriculture has been key in building our nation’s economy, growing innovations, and strengthening cities and towns across our country. Every corner of our nation has been touched by agriculture and every person’s life continues to be touched by agriculture on a daily basis.  Silos & Smokestacks’ mission is to ensure that the American agriculture story and its role in the growth and success of our nation continues to be known and understood for generations.  We must be reauthorized in order to continue our existence as a National Heritage Area. We are the only National Heritage Area in Iowa, and the only one that tells the story of American agriculture. This legislation will allow us to continue to meet our mission for many years to come.”

Background on the Silos & Smokestack National Heritage Area

The Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the nation and is an affiliated area of the National Park Service. National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. National Heritage Areas collaborate with communities to determine how to preserve and share heritage relevant to local needs.

Stretching from Des Moines to Davenport and Mason City to Waukon, Silos & Smokestacks is a 37-county region in Iowa covering over 20,000 square miles. Silos & Smokestacks partners with 120 local historic and agricultural sites and allows visitors to experience farm life, agribusiness, and rural communities, past and present, in a variety of ways. 

An estimated 3.1 million people visit the heritage area each year. The area is a vital driver in the rural economy in the region, contributing $309 million annually to the economy and supporting over 7,000 jobs. Silos and Smokestacks provides substantial return on federal investment by drawing in over $80 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.