WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced that her 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 just-passed Natural Resources Management Act.

Gillibrand’s legislation, the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Study Act, authorizes the National Park Service to conduct a feasibility study in Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates counties.

Gillibrand has pushed to designate the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area in 2015, when she first announced her legislation in Red Jacket Park on the bank of Keuka Lake.

“I’m very excited that my legislation to begin the process of designating the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Area has passed the Senate,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Finger Lakes Region is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in our state, and it is one of our country’s great historical and cultural treasures. A National Heritage Area designation would help further conserve and protect the region’s natural resources and attract even more people from all over the world to the Finger Lakes. I was proud to fight for this provision, and will continue work with my House colleagues to ensure that this legislation is passed into law.”

“We cannot thank Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Reed enough for their ongoing efforts to secure the needed authorization for this feasibility study. This study will determine if the Finger Lakes region could qualify to be added to the prestigious list of 49 current National Heritage Areas. 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 is 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 Cynthia Kimble, President, Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.

A feasibility study is the first step in determining whether a region has the resources and local capacity necessary to be designated as a National Heritage Area. Designating the Finger Lakes region as a National Heritage Area would help boost local tourism and conserve and protect the region’s natural, historic, and cultural resources.

According to the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance’s data from 2017, tourism in the region’s 14 counties generates over $3 billion in business and employs 58,242 people. The Finger Lakes region is home to more than 400 registered historic sites and landmarks, 135 museums, 80 art galleries, 14 professional theater companies, 100 wineries, 300 bed and breakfast facilities, and 650 miles of shoreline.