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With Decision Expected Soon, Schumer Urges Feds To Designate Niagara Falls A National Heritage Area Managed By Federal Commission With Local Control

Senators Proposal Would Fold Local Control, Federal Dollars, and Professional Parks Experience Into One Package

Schumer: This Designation Will Give WNY The Tools And Resources It Needs To Make Niagara Falls A Top-Tier National Treasure

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the National Park Service (NPS) to make its final conclusion on a pending report and designate Niagara Falls a National Heritage Area. Schumer also called for a federal commission to oversee the park. In November, a resource feasibility study was released, which outlines options the management of the Heritage area. The National Heritage Area designation for the area would enable the National Park Service to assist local efforts to protect the Niagara Reservations natural resources, and open up new funding sources while promoting development and tourism in the region. The NPS is currently finalizing its decision regarding the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Resource Study. Once a decision is rendered, Schumer plans to introduce legislation establishing the Niagara Falls Heritage Area and see to its quick passage.

"This option gives us the best of both worlds: we get to utilize the resources of the federal government, but make sure that local leaders still have a say, Schumer said. Niagara Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world, but unlike so many other natural American treasures, it has been taken for granted over the years and has deteriorated to a point of disrepair. This sad fact is underscored each June when the summer tourist season starts and many more visitors to view this treasure from Canada. The designation of a National Heritage Area will reenergize the efforts to boost the Falls, and let the region tap into the federal government's resources to aid their longterm Niagara Falls revitalization efforts."

In a personal letter to Fran P. Mainella, Director of the National Park Service, Schumer wrote, A Federal Commission will raise the [Falls] profile, 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. Once the Niagara Falls Heritage Area is up and running and significant improvements have been made, a local entity such as a nonprofit organization can take the reigns, working closely with National Park Services to ensure we maximize the federal resources available.

The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Resource Study explored the feasibility of creating a National Heritage Area in Niagara Falls and proposed several options for its management. The study release was followed by a public comment period in which many Western New Yorkers spoke in support of both the Heritage Area, and the establishment of a federal commission to manage it. Schumer said, I believe that management and oversight by a federal commission will best ensure that Niagara Falls gets the resources and attention it needs. The creation of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area would enable the federal government to assist local efforts to protect the Niagara Reservations natural resources while promoting development and tourism in the region. In addition, as a National Heritage Area, Niagara Falls will be eligible for up to $1 million in federal funds each year.

In 2001, Schumer and U.S. Rep. John LaFalce secured $25,000 for 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.