Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has announced $15,000 was awarded to the National Falls National Heritage Area to support the development of a virtual program expected to celebrate the legacy and potential of the Niagara region.
The grant will support the "Connecting Youth to History: Niagara River Historic and Natural Sites, Physical and Virtual" program. It will directly impact approximately 500 fourth-grade students and 25 teachers and teacher aides of the Niagara Falls City School District; many more will experience the virtual program as they visit Old Fort Niagara.
Slaughter is the author of the original Niagara Falls Heritage Act, which designates Niagara Falls as a National Heritage Area.
Last week, she wrote a letter of support for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, saying it is a good step forward in the Niagara Region's continued development.
"As a Heritage Area, Niagara Falls will reap the benefits of historical preservation, the engagement of young people through educational programs, enhanced visitor experience and an economic revitalization through heritage tourism. Niagara Falls plays a rich role in American history," she said. "The projects and programs suggested in the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Management Plan and Environmental Assessment draw on this rich history, highlight the bounty and beauty of our region, and will enhance the Niagara River Gorge corridor for many years to come."
A copy of Slaughter's letter to the U.S Department of Interior supporting the grant is included below.
"We are proud to provide the much needed support to create unique opportunities for all Americans to personally connect with their national parks," said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "The America's Best Idea grants are often the catalyst for extraordinary experiences that develop into lifelong relationships with our national parks for the program participants."
The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area stretches from the western boundary of Wheatfield, to the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario, including the communities of Niagara Falls, Youngstown and Lewiston.
The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area has been selected as one of 49 national parks participating in the 2012 America's Best Idea program, which is sponsored by the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. Inspired by the critically acclaimed Ken Burns documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," the America's Best Idea grant program funds park projects designed to connect diverse, under-engaged populations throughout the U.S. with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways. The America's Best Idea Program is funded in part by L.L. Bean, Disney, the Anschutz Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation.
About the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Act
Slaughter introduced the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Act on Jan. 28, 2007 in the House, while Sen. Charles Schumer introduced a companion bill in the Senate. National Heritage Area designations, awarded by Congress, protect and preserve many of the most unique and highly prized natural resources in the U.S. The designation promotes cooperation among preservationists and those involved in community renewal efforts. In Heritage Areas, for- and not-for-profit businesses, individuals, and a wide variety of organizations combine their skills and resources for the benefit of their communities.
A National Heritage Area designation will heighten national appreciation for the region, better preserve its natural and historic resources, improve coordination among existing programs at the site, and improve the quality of life and economy of the Niagara region.
The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area will comprise the area stretching from the Western boundary of the Town of Wheatfield to the mouth of the Niagara River, and from the river to Lake Ontario. It will also include the City of Niagara Falls, the villages of Youngstown and Lewiston, and all land and water lying within these boundaries.
For these reasons, there has been widespread public interest in establishing a National Heritage Area in the Niagara region since 2000, when Western New York leaders met with National Park Service officials to discuss the concept. In 2002, Public Law 107-256, the "Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Study Act," directed the secretary of the interior to conduct a study of the feasibility of establishing a Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. The National Park service began work on the study in May 2003, and interviewed more than 30 local stakeholders, state agencies, local communities, historians, tourism interests, and business interests along the Niagara corridor.
The National Park Service formally recommended this vision for the Niagara NHA on May 26, 2006. H.R. 1483, which includes the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Act, would implement the National Park Service's final recommendation. On May 8, 2008, Niagara Falls Heritage Act was signed into law as part of S. 2739, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act.
Slaughter's Letter of Support for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area
June 1, 2012
Dr. Thomas Chambers
Niagara Falls National Heritage Area
Timon Hall, Room 119
P.O. Box 1932
Niagara University, New York 14109
Dear Dr. Chambers,
I would like to offer my utmost support and congratulations on the development of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. As the author of the original Niagara Falls Heritage Act, which designates Niagara Falls as a National Heritage Area, and as the Congressional Representative for this great community, I am pleased to see the plan and assessment come to fruition.
As one of our nation's natural wonders, this designation brings the much needed, and long awaited, distinction that Niagara Falls and the Niagara River Gorge deserve. The plan that has been presented outlines a clear vision and strong goals. As a Heritage Area, Niagara Falls will reap the benefits of historical preservation, the engagement of young people through educational programs, enhanced visitor experience and an economic revitalization through heritage tourism.
Niagara Falls plays a rich role in American history. When President James Madison and the U.S. Congress declared war on British-controlled Canada in 1812, Niagara Falls served as a central battleground in a pivotal war. The history of the Niagara region transcends colonialism, Europeanism, and both Native American and African American history. This region is also home to a long history of invention and innovation. Niagara Falls has repeatedly been on the cutting edge of modernization, such as hydroelectric power and the technologies that revolutionized heavy industries in the region.
For over 200 years visitors from all over the United States and the world have visited the Niagara Region to view the phenomena, beauty and power of the Falls. Niagara Falls continues to inspire people and serves as both a local and national symbol of grandeur.
The projects and programs suggested in the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Management Plan and Environmental Assessment draw on this rich history, highlight the bounty and beauty of our region and will enhance the Niagara River Gorge corridor for many years to come. The heritage area plan will be a key tool to ensuring our community's role as a worldwide tourist destination for generations to come.
I am proud to support the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, and I commend the Commission on their work to bring this plan to reality.
Louise M. Slaughter