On March 30, 2009, the Northern Plains National Heritage Area became a reality when the U.S. Congress passed the Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009. This designated the Northern Plains National Heritage Area and named the Northern Plains Heritage Foundation as its coordinating entity. This builds on and carries forward a legacy started when President Ronald Reagan signed the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area into existence on August 24, 1984.
In October 2010, Sen. Byron Dorgan introduced an amendment to PL 111-11 that guaranteed the protection of private property from any regulations as a result of the Northern Plains National Heritage Area designation.
The mission of the Northern Plains Heritage Foundation (NPHF) is to develop and enhance heritage tourism by telling "the story of the heritage of the area," and encouraging "long-term resource protection, enhancement, interpretation, funding, management and development of the Heritage Area." This includes the "preservation and conservation of the National Heritage Area's nationally important stories."
Northern Plains National Heritage Area Management Plan (Sept. 2018)