Hwy. 49 designation proposed | TheUnion.com

Hwy. 49 designation proposed

In an effort to boost tourism, a Mariposa congressman wants to designate Highway 49 as California’s first National Heritage Corridor.

The designation would make communities along Highway 49 – from Mariposa to Nevada County to Plumas County – eligible for federal grant monies to promote culture and history.

Jurisdictions along the highway would apply for the grants, Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, said Tuesday. The program is voluntary, he said.

“There would be no new restrictions whatsoever,” Kennedy said.

The bill, which will go before the House Resources Committee today, calls for a study by the Department of the Interior to evaluate the historic significance of Highway 49. The study would also assess ways to best preserve that history.

If approved, the study may not be done before 2004, Kennedy said.

Supervisors Bruce Conklin, Peter Van Zant and Sue Horne said Tuesday they were not familiar with the proposal.

“I don’t know what the ramifications of that designation would be,” said Horne, who represents the south county. “I haven’t heard anything about (the bill).”

Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said his agency is also not familiar with the proposed legislation. “We haven’t had the chance to look at that,” he said.

Margaret Urke, executive director of the California Association of Business, Property and Resources Owners, was also unaware of the bill.

Urke has opposed state Scenic Highway Designation for Highway 174. She said the restrictions would infringe on owners’ property rights and wondered if the proposed designation for Highway 49 would mean new restrictions by the federal government.

There are 15 National Heritage Areas in the United States, including six National Heritage Corridors that are managed by state and local jurisdictions.

The National Parks Service, which does not own the land, provides staff and funding to promote the corridors.

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