Bill reauthorizes Niagara Falls National Heritage Area & Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor for 15 years
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the House of Representatives approved the National Heritage Area Act (S.1942). The bill reauthorizes all Niagara Heritage Areas, including those in Niagara Falls and along the Erie Canal, for the next 15 years, ensuring a long-term federal commitment to investments in these areas.
Higgins, a cosponsor of a similar House bill, has been pushing for the legislation to pass.
“National Heritage Areas help to tell the stories of America and Western New York’s rich history, including its role in building the Erie Canal, supporting the Underground Railroad, and creating the first state park in the country – Niagara Falls State Park,” Higgins said. “These lessons are not only important to preserve for future generations, but they drive cultural and historic tourism, which supports jobs and community development. Short-term reauthorizations in the past have created uncertainty and threatened heritage area funding and existence. This bill ensures the good work of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor can continue for years to come.”
Sara Capen, chairwoman of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and executive director of Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, said, “The National Heritage Area Act is a testament to the tremendous work National Heritage Areas do within communities across America. It is a direct reflection of the determination and resilience that is not only the bedrock of National Heritage Areas, like Niagara Falls, but also the history of the places and people National Heritage Areas represent. The Alliance of National Heritage Areas is profoundly grateful for the tireless leadership and support we have received on a bipartisan basis within Congress today, and look forward to serving our communities for an additional 15 years. We especially appreciate legislators and staff who took the extra time, expertise and efforts to ensure the culmination of this process, as well as the frequent communications along the way to passage of the National Heritage Area Act.”
Higgins’ team said, “The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area has been the driving force behind many initiatives generating tourism in the greater Niagara Region. This includes the Discover Niagara Shuttle, which has continued to expand its route following its inception, public mural projects, and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.” For more information, visit www.discoverniagara.org.
Again, “The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor promotes events, invests in projects, and preserves cultural identity at locations all along the Erie Canal. National Heritage grants have recently supported projects by Lumber City Development Corp. in North Tonawanda, Erie Canal Discover Center in Lockport, the Buffalo Maritime Center’s Packet Boat project at Canalside in Buffalo, and The Riverline project led by the WNY Land Conservancy.” To learn more, go to eriecanalway.org.
The Western New York National Heritage Areas are two of 55 heritage areas, designated by Congress, across the U.S. The federal funding allocated to the sites is leveraged to support heritage tourism, educational projects and other regionally important initiatives. According to the National Parks Service, every federal dollar invested in National Heritage Areas generates $5.50 in local economic benefits.
The bill passed in the Senate on Dec. 20 by unanimous consent and will now go to the president’s desk for his signature.