WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman’s (R-OH) bill to ensure that the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which spans more than 110 miles between New Philadelphia and Cleveland, can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism and economic development in northeast Ohio. Brown and Portman’s measure was included as part of a broader public lands package passed by the Senate today. The package now heads to the House for consideration.
“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 for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, which will help ensure that this site is protected and 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 colleague Senator Brown on getting this legislation signed into law.”
The Senators’ bill makes a legislative fix to make sure the Canalway doesn’t face funding uncertainty each year. In 2015, Congress reauthorized the Canalway through 2021, but failed to simultaneously lift its funding cap to reflect its extended authorization, leaving the Canalway’s work to enrich the communities it spans in jeopardy each year. The Senators want to permanently lift this cap, so it can continue to receive its federal funding, which helps it raise additional funds from the State of Ohio, private organizations and foundations.
The Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition supports Brown and Portman’s efforts.
“Through the funding cap increase for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area in the S.47, we will continue to develop, maintain and activate the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and connector trails, preserve historic buildings, and conserve natural areas from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, Ohio. Working together with local governments, park agencies, foundations and non-profit organizations, we have built 88 miles of the Towpath Trail, preserved over 20 historic structures and leveraged over $408 million in community and economic impact. We are extremely grateful to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman for their tremendous support and vision for Ohio & Erie Canalway and Towpath Trail as we create a legacy for future generations,” said Daniel Rice, President and CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition.
Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area spans the first 110 miles of the canal. The annual economic impact on Ohio is more than $408 million.