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Higgins backs federal grant for Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park through National Maritime Heritage Grant Program


Thu, May 12th 2022 07:25 pm

New competitive funding opportunity announced this week

A new opportunity for federal maritime heritage funding opened this week, and Congressman Brian Higgins is advocating for the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park to receive an award.

The National Maritime Heritage Grant program, administered through the National Park Service and Maritime Administration, makes grants available for preservation and education efforts related to U.S. maritime history. The grant program, which hasn’t issued grants in recent years due to lack of funding, has limited resources, is competitive, and requires matching funding.

Higgins issued a letter of support for an application by the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, writing, “You can be certain that the preservation of USS The Sullivans, and the other vessels maintained by the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, the USS Little Rock and the USS Croaker, are exactly consistent with Congress’ intent when this program was authorized and funded. Given the events of the last few months, especially the extraordinary efforts that were made to save the USS The Sullivans, I must tell you that any decision not to fund the forthcoming application would be met with widespread disappointment.”

The notice of funding opportunity opened May 10 with an application deadline of Sept. 20. Grants ranging between $50,000 and $750,000 will be made to a select number of applicants for preservation projects with grants also available for education.

In September of 2021, the House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act, which included an amendment submitted by Higgins authorizing funding for the National Maritime Heritage Grant program. Prior to its passage, Higgins spoke in favor of the measure on the House floor, warning at that time “The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park in my community is home to several decommissioned Naval vessels that serve as floating museums. … Without resources, ships like these and across the country are deteriorating and in some cases are literally sinking.”

Months later, in April, the USS The Sullivans began taking on water, sinking into the Buffalo Harbor. A coordinated effort to “Save the Sullivans” raised the hull, but the ship and others at the Naval Park, are in need of repairs. Higgins personally secured $490,000 in the 2022 federal budget for preservation and repairs to the USS The Sullivans.

Just weeks ago, Higgins advocated for federal resources to protect and preserve military history saying, “Maritime Heritage Grants, National Preservation Programs, and the Department of Defense are potential sources of funding to help these vessels. Dedicated sailors operated these vessels to defend our nation. It’s our turn to protect their stories and the lessons they provide to future generations. We as a nation cannot abandon them or these ships.”

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