FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2005
Schumer Weighs In On Niagara Falls Heritage Area – Calls For New Federal Commission To Manage Falls
Recently-Released National Heritage Area Study Outlines Multiple Options To Preserve Area
Senator Announces Support For Federal Leadership, Says It’s The Best Way To Make Niagara Falls the National Treasure WNY Deserves
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced his support for the establishment of a federal commission to manage a Niagara Falls Heritage Area. Last week the National Park Service released its resource study, which outlined several options to designate the area as a National Heritage Area, including state, federal, and non-profit management. An important local hearing on the Heritage Area will occur on Monday, December 5th. This distinction of a Niagara Falls Heritage Area would enable the federal government to assist local efforts to protect the Niagara Reservation’s natural resources while promoting development and tourism in the region. As a way to maximize resources, prestige and management expertise, Schumer today urged that a federal commission oversee the first stage of the National Heritage Area’s establishment. Schumer pointed out that, once the Heritage Area is established and stable, a local non-profit entity could then take over.
“Niagara Falls is one of the world’s greatest treasures and the federal government must step up to the plate to preserve it,” Schumer said. “A federally managed National Heritage Area will pay enormous dividends to Western New York. Unfortunately, the Falls has been taken for granted over the years and has deteriorated to a point of disrepair - a sad fact that is underscored each June when the summer tourist season starts. But federal management will mean we can get the attention and resources we need, a key ingredient for revitalization efforts throughout the entire region.”
Two weeks ago the National Park Service released its Niagara National Heritage Study, which detailed three options for managing a National Heritage Area at the Falls: a federal commission, the State Greenway Commission, or a nonprofit entity. In their study, the Park Service determined that though there would be no significant environmental impact, a designation as a National Heritage Area could have a major economic impact.
At the public comment hearing this coming Monday, Schumer will push for Niagara Falls to be designated a National Heritage Area and for a Federal Commission to manage the entity. “A Federal Commission will raise the profile and keep the National Park Service closely involved and make it more of a national treasure. This will add even more prestige to this wondrous site and make it even more of a magnet for national and international visitors,” said Senator Schumer. As a National Heritage Area, Niagara Falls will be eligible for up to $1 million in federal funds each year. A Federal Commission would be made of roughly 15-25 members including local and national experts, tourism officials and historians.
In 2001, Schumer and U.S. Rep. John LaFalce secured $25,000 for the National Park Service officials to put together a list of ways the federal government can assist local revitalization efforts. National Park Service officials presented their recommendations to Schumer's Niagara Falls Advisory Panel, a group of elected officials, community advocates and business leaders exploring what the scope of the federal role should be in the revitalization effort. In 2002, Schumer personally secured $300,000 in the Interior Appropriations bill that was used to implement some of those recommendations, which included pursuing a National Heritage Area designation. This past summer, Schumer called Fran P. Mainella, Director of the National Park Service, to express the urgency and importance of this issue.