Portman, Brown, Joyce, and Ryan Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Funding for Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area

Legislation Would Extend Funding Authorization 15 Years, Increase Funding Cap By $10 Million

February 23, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to increase investment in the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area by extending the funding reauthorization for an additional 15 years, through 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. This bill will help ensure it can continue to draw investment, and support local jobs, tourism, and economic development in northeast Ohio. Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) are leading the House version of the bill, which is also sponsored by Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).

“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 will help bring jobs and investments to the area,” 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 in both the Senate and the House on getting this legislation signed into law."

“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.” 

“I’m proud to join my fellow Buckeyes in reintroducing this bipartisan bill to support the historic Ohio and Erie Canalway National Heritage Area,” said Joyce. “By investing in the Ohio and Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, our legislation will ensure that it can continue to support thousands of jobs and bring economic development to the Buckeye State, all while protecting its historic legacy for future generations of Ohioans and those who visit our great state.”

“The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area connects neighborhoods and creates much needed green spaces in areas that would otherwise not have them. 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 Ryan.

"Spanning 110 miles, the Ohio & Erie Canal is an essential part of our state and nation's history," Gonzalez said. “This legislation will be critical in drawing investment and other job opportunities for the people of northeast Ohio. I am proud to support its full reauthorization and ensure future generations can enjoy the natural beauty of Northeast Ohio."

“The Ohio & Erie Canalway is a national treasure recognized as a National Historic Area, one of just 55 unique locations to receive such a designation,” said Kaptur. “It deserves our robust financial support to ensure that its preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.”

In March 2019, Portman and Brown’s legislation to increase the funding cap was included as part of a broader public lands package that was signed into law. This bill 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 attracts over 2.5 million visitors to the region each year.