U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s legislation to take the first step towards designating the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area has passed the Senate as a provision in the Natural Resources Management Act. The Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Study Act, authorizes the National Park Service to conduct a feasibility study in 14 counties including Yates. Gillibrand has pushed to designate the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area since 2015, when she announced the legislation in Red Jacket Park on Keuka Lake.

The study will determine if the region qualifies to be added to the list of  49 current National Heritage Areas, says Cynthia Kimble, president of Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.  “Given our rich background, national resources and historical connection to the nation’s growth, we are hopeful that the next step will be the designation of the Finger Lakes as a National Heritage Area. This will give the region the National recognition that it so deserves and to secure this needed authorization for the study during our 100th year of service to the region makes it all the more poignant,” said Kimble.

By incorporating community input, NHAs turn every $1.00 of federal investment into $5.50 for jobs and government revenue that helps boost local tourism while protecting the region’s precious natural, historic, and cultural resources.

NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. The NHA program currently includes 49 heritage areas across the country, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership in New York, and is administered by the National Parks Service.