Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) today announced that their amendment to raise and extend the federal funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to $14 million has been included in the soon-to-pass end of the year budget package. This is an increased funding cap of $2 million, without which, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor would have no longer been eligible to receive federal funding. Instead, following the members’ successful push, the Erie Canalway will continue to receive annual appropriations to help preserve this historic corridor and promote tourism and economic development throughout the region.
“The Erie Canal is a crucial economic engine for tourism in Western New York, not to mention one of the state’s greatest attractions and most impressive features. It’s incumbent on all of us, elected officials, residents, and tourists alike to preserve the history and beauty of the Erie Canal for the long-term future, so that it can be enjoyed by generations of New Yorkers and Americans to come,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I urged my colleagues in Congress to raise and extend the funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, allowing it to continue receiving the federal support it needs to thrive. More than ever, we have to make sure our local governments and communities in Upstate New York have the resources required to protect treasures like the Erie Canal.”
“The Erie Canal is one of New York State’s most important historic treasures. The legacy of the canal helps drive millions of dollars for Upstate New York, promoting tourism for the communities along the corridor,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It was a mistake for Congress to leave this historic waterway, which connects communities from Glens Falls to Buffalo, at risk of losing its federal support, which is why I’ve been fighting to raise and extend the funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. I’m proud that our amendment to do just that has passed the Senate, and will continue to fight to make sure the Erie Canal can be preserved for generations to come.”
“Our Erie Canalway connects us and future generations with the stories and places of the past that have shaped who we are as Americans,” said Congressman Tonko. “Not only does the Canalway provide us with an incalculable historical and cultural value, it delivers a significant economic return by bringing tourism and commerce across our region. I was proud to work to get this provision in the House Appropriations package, and am overjoyed that this raise in the funding cap will be signed into law so that we can continue to invest in and preserve this unique, national treasure.”
“We appreciate the extraordinary vision of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressman Tonko, to support New York’s nationally-significant canal system. Thanks to their efforts we can continue to invest in people and communities along our cherished upstate waterways,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director, Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
Congress established the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in 2000. The corridor spans 524 miles and 23 counties across the full expanse of Upstate New York, following the historic routes of the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain Canals. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, in partnership with the National Park Service and numerous local, state, and federal partners, works to preserve and share the Erie Canal’s extraordinary heritage, to promote Upstate New York communities as a tourism destination, and to foster vibrant communities connected by the waterway through historic preservation, conservation and recreation, education, and community development. Approximately 3.2 million New Yorkers live in the communities within the corridor, and a 2016 economic analysis found that the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor had an annual economic impact of $307.7 million in Upstate New York.
Congress has imposed cumulative funding caps on the amount of funding National Heritage Areas can receive over their lifetime, but also has the authority to increase the caps when they are about to be reached. Although the expiring statuary caps for many national heritage corridors were extended in the Lands Package earlier this year, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor was left out of the cap extension. The members previously led a push to ensure Congress raises and expands the funding cap for the Erie Canalway to preserve its legacy.