Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko and Brian Higgins today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations package, which is set to pass Congress, raises the lifetime funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to $12 million. Designated as a National Heritage Area in 2000 (NHA), the federal investment is $2 million more than the previously authorized level.
“This increased funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area means more resources and support for this vital attraction. This increase preserves The Erie Canal Heritage Area’s ability to receive critical annual federal funding through the National Park Service (NPS), and protects this critical attraction so that it can continue to be an economic hub and a draw for Upstate residents and tourists,” said Senator Schumer.
“The Erie Canal is one of our most important natural treasures,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor continues to help drive our economy and provide New Yorkers with adventure and recreation. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to preserve the beauty and tradition of the Erie Canal.”
“When I visit the Erie Canal, I am filled with a profound sense of history and place. But the Erie Canal is more than just a part of our heritage. It drives local job creation and significant economic activity across our region. That is why I am happy to announce today that I have led efforts in the U.S. House to secure its place as a federal priority in the latest budget deal. We will continue our work to ensure that the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor helps us remember our past and define our future as a region of innovators, hard workers and problem solvers,” said Rep. Paul Tonko.
“The Erie Canal has a long history of serving as an economic driver and continues to feed tourism and economic activity today. Without this provision, federal efforts to promote the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor would have ended, at a time when sections along the Canal, including Buffalo’s waterfront particularly, are just beginning to realize their great potential. This designation extension for the Erie Canal along with sustained support for the Niagara Falls Heritage Area will continue to fuel the resident and visitor experience in Buffalo-Niagara and across New York State,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.
Last November, Gillibrand, Tonko and Higgins wrote to congressional appropriators in the Senate and House urging to lift the lifetime cap from $10million and extend funding by $2 million.
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.
The Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor consists of the 57 canal way locks, spanning 524 miles and connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River. The corridor spans upstate New York from Buffalo to Albany and north along the Champlain Canal to Whitehall. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors boat, bike, and walk along the corridor, supporting tourism, businesses, and job creation all over the state. The corridor touches hundreds of diverse communities and landscapes across Upstate New York. Schumer helped fight for the creation of the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor, and successfully fought for reauthorization of its funding in 2009.