What is the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area?

According to the National Park Service, "National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape...NPS partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls." 

Originally called Upper Missouri River NHA. At one time, the proposed boundaries went to Gates of the Mountains in Lewis & Clark County and included portions of Fergus and Phillips Country. The latter two counties were dropped when county residents, realizing the pitfalls of the NHA, spoke up against it.


We must do the same for Cascade & Chouteau Counties. 

Proponents of NHA's mislead unsuspecting citizens by stating NHA's foster cultural tourism, community revitalization, and regional economic development to gain the support of an NHA. In view of all the other government and nonprofit organizations in our region that are promoting historic preservations, tourism, and economic development, an additional taxpayer-financed entity is not needed. 

Why oppose BSCNHA? 


Despite language in an NHA designation supposedly designed to protect private property rights, local government officials are pressured to pass zoning laws and regulations not otherwise needed in order to support the NHA management plan. This impairs the right of private property owners to use and enjoy their properties as they see fit.



Private land is included within the NHA boundaries without the owner's consent. No notification is given to landowners of NHA management actions.


A private, non-elected organization will manage the NHA. This organization is not accountable to the public for their management actions.


Control of the NHA by a non-governmental organization and National Park Service oversight adds another layer of government bureaucracy.


Local, state, and federal regulations and programs and private nonprofits already exist to promote the economy and preserve the history and heritage of Central Montana. NHA designation duplicates those efforts. 


None of the National Heritage Areas in existence have become self-sufficient and are chronically dependent upon additional federal funding at taxpayer's expense. 


National Heritage Areas Funnel resources away from the National Park Service's main mission of taking care of already existing national parks. NPS money is better to spend toward backlogs of over $131 million and $585 million in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks respectively. 


​REALTORS® are dedicated to protecting private property rights and advocate for federal, state, and local policy initiatives that strengthen the ability of Americans to own, buy, and sell real property. 

GFAR opposes the BSCNHA for several reasons including: 

  • When a federal program can be designated at the will of Congress upon private property without notification or consent of the owner, it is a direct and absolute violation of private property rights. 

  • All property owners within an NHA boundary are subject to the NHA. They have no right to receive notice of the managing entity's actions, no right to provide input, and no vote on the management plan or other actions of the managing entity.

    • Which renders false BSCHNA's representation that " The primary benefit of having a Heritage Area would be to give the residents a strong voice in the economic development in the land they call home." 

  • There have been several instances of restrictive zoning practices when NHA designation approval has been established. NHA's frequently lobby for and support restrictive regulations to implement their management plan. 

  • NHA's have opposed local development projects they believe are inconsistent with their management plans. 

  • NHA designation can lead to government acquisition of control over previously private lands within NHA (e.g., congress created new national parks within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and the Cane River NHA.) 

  • The local coordinating/management entity that establishes and implements a management plan is not elected by voters or residents. The directors elect themselves. They can undermine the authority of elected officials and are not accountable to citizens. There is no public right to participate in their decisions or examine documents. 

Check out BSCNHA website to form your own opinion. 

Big Sky Country NHA's vision for YOUR LAND will be IMPOSED upon you unless YOU take action!!

For More Information

 Visit and Join the Facebook Group

Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area

Katie Callahan Durcan

Acting Coordinator for National Heritage Areas

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20240

Mail Stop 7508

Phone: 202-354-2268


Alexandra Hernandez

National Heritage Areas, Regional Coordinator

Intermountain Region

PO Box 25287

Denver, CO 80225-0287

Phone: 303-969-2846



Call or Email 

Rae Grulkowski

(406) 788-3204

Additional Documents

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