Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Study Act
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1602, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A STUDY TO ASSESS THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF DESIGNATING CERTAIN LAND AS THE FINGER LAKES NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
February 14, 2018
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1602, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating certain land as the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area, and for other purposes.
The Department recognizes that the Finger Lakes region possesses the kind of natural and cultural characteristics that would make it an appropriate area to study for its potential as a national heritage area. However, in order to focus resources on reducing the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog and addressing other critical national park needs, funding for national heritage areas is not a priority in the Administration’s FY 2018 or FY 2019 budget. In addition, currently, the National Park Service is conducting 22 previously authorized studies to determine if areas have potential for inclusion in the National Park System as new units, national heritage areas, national trails, or wild and scenic rivers. Under these circumstances, we believe it would be unwise to authorize the study of additional national heritage areas at this time.
S. 1602 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating an area in the State of New York as the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area. The study area would include the counties of Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates.
State parks and private organizations within the study area provide public recreational and educational opportunities for similar resources not recognized through federal programs. Opportunities for the sharing of cultural heritage and folkways are available throughout the year through a variety of established organizations and the Federally recognized tribes within the region.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.