Finger Lakes National Herigate Area Study Act of 2015
STATEMENT OF DR. STEPHANIE TOOTHMAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS, AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1824, 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 IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
JUNE 15, 2016
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1824, 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 in New York, and for other purposes.
The Department supports enactment of S. 1824. However, we believe that priority should be given to the 24 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
S. 1824 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 in New York. The study area would include the counties of Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Onondaga, Cortland, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, Livingston, Ontario, Yates, Schuyler, Seneca, and Tompkins. Resources in other counties in the vicinity could be included in the study. This study would determine whether within the area there is an assemblage of natural, historic, and cultural resources that represent distinctive aspects of the heritage of the United States; are worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation, and continuing use; and would be best managed through partnerships among public and private entities. These, and other criteria listed in the bill, are the criteria that the National Park Service supports using to determine whether to recommend to Congress the designation of an area as a national heritage area.
Collectively, the counties within the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area study area contain a broad array of natural, historic, and cultural resources of national, state, and local significance. Within the counties listed in the bill, there are 760 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places representing every era of the American experience. Twelve of the properties are designated National Historic Landmarks. The study area contains an established national park unit, Women’s Rights National Historical Park, as well as the recently authorized Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, and portions of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Finger Lakes National Forest, and five National Natural Landmarks, representing resources ranging from climax forest to woodland marsh to glacial geology. Portions of the North Country National Scenic Trail lie within the study area, as does the Finger Lakes Trail network.
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. The study would be conducted in consultation with the various non-federal stakeholders in the area.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.