WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced legislation to provide greater funding certainty to the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, by extending funding reauthorization 15 years, to 2036, and increasing the funding cap by $10 million. The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland. The senators’ legislation will help ensure it can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism, and economic development in northeast Ohio. Reps. Tim Ryan and Dave Joyce have introduced the House version of the bill, which is also sponsored by Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Anthony Gonzalez.
“Ohioans take great pride in our state’s historic role in building the Erie Canal and connecting our state to the rest of the country,” said Brown. “From Tuscarawas County to Cuyahoga County, the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area draws millions of dollars to our state each year, supporting thousands of jobs. We owe it to all Ohioans and visitors to continue to support this treasure.”
“This legislation will provide greater funding certainty to continue the public-private partnerships that have protected and improved the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which continues to attract jobs and investment,” said Portman. “The canal holds great significance to the state of Ohio, from helping our early towns and communities prosper to linking our state to the rest of the nation. I am proud to be one of the 2.5 million visitors who enjoy the canal’s towpath trail each year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues Senator Brown and Congressmen Ryan and Joyce on getting this legislation signed into law.”
“Federal dollars encourage private investment, which means more Ohioans will have access to outdoor recreation activities and protected natural resources right in their backyard. All of this underscores the importance of the continued conservation of historic spaces and public lands for communities, local economies, and future generations of Americans,” said Rep. Tim Ryan.
“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to authorize increased funding for the historic Ohio and Erie Canalway so that this National Heritage Area can continue to support thousands of jobs and bring economic development to the Buckeye State," said Rep. Dave Joyce. "The investment our bill makes will help ensure jobs, recreation, tourism and economic development can continue to thrive in Northeast Ohio.”
In March 2019, Brown and Portman’s legislation to increase the funding cap was included as part of a broader public lands package that was signed into law. The senators’ legislation helped ensure the Canalway can continue to receive its federal funding, which helps it raise additional funds from the state of Ohio, private organizations and foundations.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans the first 110 miles of the canal and has annually drawn over 2.5 million visitors to the region.