Federal funding set to run out by next year
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, led an effort to extend funding for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. The corridor was restricted to $10 million in lifetime funding and was projected to reach the cap by next year. Earlier this year, Higgins wrote to appropriators asking to raise the funding cap and was able to include language in the recently approved Interior & Environment appropriations bill allowing for an additional $2 million.
"The Erie Canal plays an important role in our national history and continues to be an economic stimulator for local economies across New York state today," Higgins said. "This measure will allow for continued federal investments in the promotion of and enhancements to Erie Canal communities."
The Erie Canal was first designated a National Heritage Corridor by Congress in 2000. In 2014, Higgins and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced and won approval for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Act (HR 4641), legislation reauthorizing the Erie Canal as a National Heritage Corridor. The federal designation, which was set to expire in 2015, was renewed through 2021.
Through this designation, a federally appointed Canalway commission, in conjunction with the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Interior, is tasked with promoting the corridor as a tourism destination and ensuring the historical and natural features of the Canal and its communities are preserved.
According to a recent study, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor generates $307.7 million in economic impact, supports 3,240 jobs, and generates $34.9 million in tax revenues.
Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal, which connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, had a lasting impact on New York and the U.S. Today, the Erie Canal Corridor is one of the largest National Heritage Areas, covering 4,834 square miles across 23 counties, extending from Tonawanda to Whitehall at the bottom of Lake Champlain, and includes Buffalo, Rochester and the Finger Lakes, Oswego, Syracuse, Albany, Saratoga National Historic Park and Glens Falls.
For more information, visit www.eriecanalway.org.