New legislation pushes to make Cahokia Mounds site a national park

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COLLINSVILLE, Il- Tourism in the St. Louis metro area could get a big shot in the arm if Illinois and Missouri lawmakers achieve their goal.

Both Republicans and Democrats, senators and congressmen want to make Cahokia Mounds a national park. People supporting the idea said it would bring in millions of more tourist dollars.

Cahokia Mounds covers 2,200 acres. The Mississippian Culture, the people who lived there, dates back to 700 A.D.

Advocates have for years pushed to make the site a part of the National Park Service. Last week U.S. Representative Mike Bost introduced a bill to make Cahokia Mounds a national park, noting that it was once the largest civilization in what is now the United States.  Today U.S. Senator Dick Durbin did the same thing.  Other area lawmakers support the measure. The Illinois governor says he hasn’t yet decided. Governor J. B. Pritzker added, “It’s an area that’s an attraction for tourism from around the world and so we want to make sure we protect that area as best we can.”

The head of Great Rivers and Routes believes making the mounds a national park would improve the grounds and visitors’ experiences. Brett Stawar said, “Enhancing the structures and maintain the assets we have here.”

He predicted the number of tourists will increase from 300,000  to more than a half million visitors a year. He said, tourist dollars spent will jump from 20 to 28 million bucks. Stawar said, “This designation will continue to build the site into somethings it’s never been before.”

Visitors welcome the proposal. One man said, “They take good care of it but I think they can always use improvement.” A woman added, “If they put more money into it, I think that would be great.” A second woman said, “Bringing in more revenue and more jobs I think that would be a positive thing.”

Cahokia Mounds is already a World Heritage Site. It’s on the same list as the Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China. Supporters said making it national park would make it even better.

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