WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko and Brian Higgins announced on May 1 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 previously authorized.
“This increased funding cap for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area means more resources and support for this vital attraction,” said Schumer. “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.”
NHAs are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, they 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.
“The Erie Canal is one of our most important natural treasures,” said 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.”
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 communities and landscapes across Upstate New York. Schumer supported the creation of the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor and reauthorization of its funding in 2009.
Last November, Gillibrand, Tonko and Higgins wrote to congressional appropriators in the Senate and House urging to lift the lifetime cap from $10 million and extend funding by $2 million.
“When I visit the Erie Canal, I am filled with a profound sense of history and place,” said Tonko. “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.”
A grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects through public-private partnerships. The NHA program currently includes 49 heritage areas across the country, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and is administered by the National Parks Service.