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United States : Admin Budget Would Eliminate Critical Funding for National Heritage Areas Like the Erie Canalway and Niagara Falls Heritage Area in Wny

Mar 05, 2018 (Euclid Infotech Ltd via COMTEX) --

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today sounded the alarm and expressed serious concerns over the administrations plan to eliminate funding for the National Park Services (NPS) National Heritage Area Program (NHA). This proposed funding cut would hurt New York States four National Heritage Areas including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, the Hudson River National Heritage Area, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, in a variety of different ways. This cut would not only affect their abilities to protect important historical, cultural, and natural resources, but it would also affect visitor experiences like educational programming and improved visitor infrastructure, which would hurt tourism in the Buffalo Niagara region. Schumer promised to fight to protect the National Heritage Area Program against these proposed cuts.

"Our National Heritage Areas are the keepers of Americas stories and are economic engines for tourism. The Discover Niagara Shuttle, for example, is a critical project formed with the help of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area and has provided over 70,000 free rides, connecting tourists with local businesses, restaurants, attractions, and shops. More than ever, we need to make sure our local governments and communities in Upstate New York have the resources they need to protect crucial natural resources, modernize their infrastructure, attract more tourists and continue revitalization efforts critical to local economic development, said Senator Schumer.

Schumer continued, New York State has four extremely popular National Heritage Areas including the Erie Canalway, the Hudson River, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Area and the Niagara Falls Heritage Area that rely on federal funding from this program to help protect these historical sites which is why I will fight these drastic cuts to make sure our National Heritage Areas in New York gets the resources they deserve."

The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area works tirelessly to enhance public appreciation for the significant heritage, culture, and landscape that makes up the Niagara region, said Sara Capen, Executive Director of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area. In the last five years, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area has worked with partners to build critical tourism initiatives like the Discover Niagara Shuttle that connect visitors and residents to the cultural assets, outdoor recreational opportunities and local businesses along the Niagara River corridor from the Falls to the Fort. National Heritage Area's conserve the nation's natural and historic resources in a cost-effective way that benefits local economies, and we are so thankful for Senator Schumers continues and tireless work to ensure our Heritage Areas have the resources we need.

Schumer has spent years working to bring this program to New York State. In 2006 Schumer joined Representative Louise Slaughter in introducing legislation to designate Niagara Falls as a National Heritage Area. The designation Schumer helped secure in 2008 enabled the National Park Service to assist local efforts to protect the Niagara Reservation's natural resources, and open up new funding sources while promoting development and tourism in the region. Schumer was also instrumental in the formation and the ultimate funding of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area Commission who were tasked with creating a plan that laid out a variety of concrete proposals that would help strengthen and rejuvenate the Niagara Regions heritage and history and help improve tourism in the region. The plan coordinated key stakeholders efforts in the region to achieve goals such as developing historical maps and brochures for visitors, establish uniform signage throughout the region and create a uniform visitor pass for admission to all historical sites in the region. Finally, the Commissions proposal would work to develop and complete a comprehensive hiking and biking trails throughout the river gorge.

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form an interconnected and nationally important landscape. The program advances the mission of the National Park Service by encouraging community stewardship of our nations heritage. The NHA program currently includes several heritage areas and its programs supports sustainable economic development, a healthy environment, improved quality of life, education and stewardship and community engagement and pride.

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