Lincoln National Heritage Area awaits Bush approval

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Legislation to create an Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area that would be spread out over the many Illinois counties where he spent his pre-White House years is awaiting President Bush's signature.

The House approved the measure this week after it passed the Senate as part of a bill involving public lands from coast to coast.

The provision was co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Rep. Ray LaHood, the Peoria Republican whose congressional district includes the 11 counties Lincoln represented for one term in the U.S. House some 160 years ago.

The legislation calls for up to $15 million in federal money over 15 years to fund grants to help keep alive the story of Lincoln through the heritage area, which will include 42 counties in central Illinois.

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