June 22, 2015

Senator Gillibrand Announces New Push To Designate Finger Lakes Region As a National Heritage Area

Gillibrand Introduces New Legislation to Authorize National Parks Service to Take First Step Towards Designating the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area, Conduct Study Across 14 Counties Tourism Generates $2.8 Billion in the Finger Lakes Region, Employs Over 58,000 People

Penn Yan, NY – Standing at Red Jacket Park on the bank of Keuka Lake, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new push to designate the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area. Gillibrand introduced legislation that would authorize the National Parks Service to take the first step towards designating the region as a National Heritage Area by conducting a feasibility study in Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates counties. Designating the region as a National Heritage Area would help boost local tourism and conserve and protect the region’s natural, historic and cultural resources.

“The Finger Lakes Region is a national treasure that should be designated a National Heritage Area,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Thousands of tourists come from around the world to visit the Finger Lakes region to experience the beautiful landscape, rich history and culture, and enjoy all that our local businesses have to offer. Designating the region a National Heritage Area would help boost local tourism while conserving and protecting the region’s previous natural, historic and cultural resources.”

“The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance is thrilled to see such this important initiative moving forward for the tourism region of the Finger Lakes,” said Cynthia Kimble, President, Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (FTLA). “A National Heritage Area designation will shine a spot light on the beauty and rich historic culture of our region.”   

“The Board recognized that we live in a historically and culturally significant region that needs to be recognized and preserved,” said Ken McConnell, FTLA Board Chair and owner of Barrister’s Bed and Breakfast. “It is important to us that this area’s beauty is preserved for future generations. Fortunately, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others have the same goals and are initiating the process to have the Finger Lakes designated as a National Heritage Area.”

According to the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance tourism in the region’s 14 counties was a $2.8 billion business in 2013 that employs 58,384 people. Tourism is a vital economic anchor in the Finger Lakes region which is home to more than 400 registered historic sites and landmarks, 135 museums, 80 art galleries, 14 professional theater companies, 100 wineries, 300 bed and breakfast facilities, and 650 miles of shoreline.

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation's diverse heritage. NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.

NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. The NHA program currently includes 49 heritage areas across the country, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership in New York, and is administered by the National Parks Service.