Katko leads congressional push to designate the Finger Lakes region as a national heritage area – Oswego County today

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File photo of U.S. Representative John Katko (R. NY-24).

SYRACUSE, NY— This effort is aimed at supporting economic development, attracting tourists, and promoting the conservation of historic and natural resources in the Finger Lakes region. Representative Katko was joined in this effort by U.S. Representatives Joseph Morelle (D, NY-25), Chris Jacobs (R, NY-27) and Tom Reed (R, NY-23).

NHRs are vast inhabited regions where historical, cultural and natural resources combine to form cohesive landscapes of national significance. Through the NHA program, the National Park Service (NPS) coordinates with community organizations and mobilizes federal resources to promote our nation’s diverse heritage in a way that matches local interests and needs. According to the NPS, NHAs have been found to promote economic development, improve water and air quality in their areas through restoration projects, promote awareness and management of natural and heritage resources and improve the local quality of life.

At the last convention, Representative Katko supported passage of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, 2019, which included a provision authorizing a feasibility study on the designation of the Finger Lakes Region as NHA. NHAs are appointed by Congress, and feasibility studies provide Congress and the NPS with the information they need to determine whether the designation is appropriate. In a letter to Home Secretary Deb Haaland, Representative Katko and lawmakers underscored the unique qualities of the Finger Lakes region and expressed strong support for its designation as an NHA. In addition, they expressed support for the coordination with local stakeholders in the implementation of the designation process.

Representative Katko and lawmakers wrote: “The scenic and diverse natural resources of the Finger Lakes region provide a strong cultural and economic base for the local community. In addition to the many recreational activities that our lakes, forests and parks are home to, the hundreds of local businesses, waterfront restaurants, art galleries and community theaters ensure that the Finger Lakes provide solid opportunities for people. residents and visitors. Notably, the Finger Lakes region is also recognized as one of America’s best wine regions, home to award-winning wines from over 100 local wineries, as well as a sizable community of local breweries, cider houses, and distilleries.

They continued, “Designating the Finger Lakes region as a national heritage area would be consistent with the stated objectives of the program to recognize cohesive landscapes of national significance. For this reason, we would like to express our strong support for the favorable review of this designation by the National Park Service (NPS). Additionally, we ask the NPS to consider working closely with existing cultural and tourism organizations, as well as with local communities in the region, as the designation process progresses.

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Secretary Haaland,

We are writing to express our strong support for the designation of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State as a National Heritage Area. As members of Congress representing the Finger Lakes region, we welcome this opportunity to recognize the many natural, cultural and historical resources in our community.

Located between the cities of Syracuse, Rochester, Elmira and Corning, the eleven Finger Lakes consist of Canadice, Canandaigua, Cayuga, Conesus, Hemlock, Honeoye, Keuka, Otisco, Owasco, Seneca and Skaneateles lakes. 40 miles long and 618 feet deep, the Finger Lakes are part of a massive and diverse watershed that also includes Lake Ontario. In the 14 counties that make up the Finger Lakes region, these water bodies are considered a valuable resource and a vital part of our local community.

The Finger Lakes are among the most scenic and cleanest waters in New York State, and are a great destination for families and local tourists. The lakes themselves offer over 650 miles of shoreline and are home to over 128 species of fish. The surrounding area includes a national forest spanning over 16,000 acres, as well as over 2,000 miles of hiking trails. Notably, the Finger Lakes region is also home to 1,063 waterfalls and gorges, including those located in Letchworth State Park, known nationwide as the Grand Canyon of the East.

The scenic and diverse natural resources of the Finger Lakes region provide a strong cultural and economic base for the local community. In addition to the many recreational activities that our lakes, forests and parks are home to, the hundreds of local businesses, waterfront restaurants, art galleries and community theaters ensure that the Finger Lakes provide solid opportunities for people. residents and visitors. Notably, the Finger Lakes region is also recognized as one of America’s best wine regions, home to award-winning wines from over 100 local wineries, as well as a sizable community of local breweries, cider houses, and distilleries.

The Finger Lakes region has also been the proud site of many critical moments in American history. Of particular significance, the Finger Lakes have an important role in our nation’s movement toward equality for all, serving as the venue for the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, as well as the home of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the last years of his life. In addition, the region contains over 160 km of the historic Erie Canal, over 400 registered historic sites and monuments, and over 135 museums, including the Seward House Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass.

Designation of the Finger Lakes region as a national heritage area would be consistent with the stated objectives of the program to recognize cohesive and nationally significant landscapes. For this reason, we would like to express our strong support for the favorable review of this designation by the National Park Service (NPS). Additionally, we ask the NPS to consider working closely with existing cultural and tourism organizations, as well as with local communities in the region, as the designation process progresses.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request. We look forward to your response.

John Katko press office press release



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