Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that legislation she authored to designate the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area (NHA) passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Gillibrand’s legislation would authorize the National Park Service to take the first step toward 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. Gillibrand has been pushing for the Finger Lakes Region to become a National Heritage Area since 2015. The legislation was reported favorably by the committee by voice vote and will now move to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate.
“The Finger Lakes Region is a national treasure that should be designated as a National Heritage Area,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Thousands of tourists come from around the world to visit the Finger Lakes Region to experience the beautiful landscape, the rich history and culture, and to enjoy all that our local businesses have to offer. Designating the region as a National Heritage Area would help boost local tourism while conserving and protecting the region’s previous natural, historic, and cultural resources. I’m pleased this legislation is now one step closer to becoming law.”
According to the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance’s data from 2016, tourism in the region’s 14 counties is a $3 billion business that employs 59,326 people. The Finger Lakes region 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.
A National Heritage Area designation would help give the Finger Lakes Region the platform it needs to leverage funds and secure long-term, sustainable support for heritage conservation and economic development. By incorporating community input, NHAs turn every $1.00 of federal investment into $5.50 for jobs and government revenue that helps boost local tourism while protecting the region’s precious natural, historic, and cultural resources.
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.