Higgins Announces Passage of Legislation Supporting Local National Heritage Areas
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives has approved legislation that includes the National Heritage Area Act, authorizing $750,000 per year for each National Heritage Area, including the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, through fiscal 2036.
“Western New York has seen the benefits National Heritage Areas provide to our community and local economy,” said Congressman Higgins. “The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor maintain an incredible return on federal investment while providing culturally significant programming to residents and visitors alike. This bill supports their funding for years to come ensuring the stories unique to Niagara Falls and the Erie Canal are shared and reimagined.”
Currently, there are 55 National Heritage Areas across the country each established by separate acts of Congress, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor established in 2000 and the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area in 2008.
Sara Capen, Chair for the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and Executive Director of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area said, “Passing the National Heritage Area Act is a critical step to stabilizing a vital program that is integral to the economic recovery of our nation at a time when our communities need it the most."
The National Heritage Area Act of 2021 was included in H.R. 803, the Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act, a package of bills protecting public lands, waters and communities. National Heritage Areas promote, enhance, and interpret natural, historic, scenic, and cultural resources that tell nationally significant stories.
In June of last year Higgins joined efforts to waive the requirement for local matching funds so National Heritage Areas can continue to operate and provide public programming during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Every federal dollar invested in a National Heritage Area generates, on average, $5.50 for the local economy. A 2016 report estimated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has a $307.7 million economic impact across the 23 counties it covers. The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area promotes economic opportunity and tourism in the greater-Niagara region with several successful projects including the Discover Niagara Shuttle, visitor app, Niagara Falls mural project and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. For more information on Western New York’s National Heritage areas visit: www.eriecanalway.org and www.discoverniagara.org.