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capitalbuilding 120Tom Reed offered new bill which would provide a new national designation to the Finger Lakes in recognition of the economic impact the natural wonders have on the region.

"We care about protecting our natural resources for generations to come. After spending time on the lakes while growing up and even as an adult with my own kids, I've had the opportunity to appreciate what's right here in our backyards," said Reed. "It's only right that we come together and find a commonsense approach to preserving our heritage and growing our local economy. This bill is a great first step."

The bill would begin to study if the Finger Lakes region could be designated as a National Heritage Area (NHA). This designation would increase the ability for the community to promote the Finger Lakes and draw more tourists and businesses to the area, while also protecting the environment around the area.

Unlike National Parks, National Heritage Areas are managed locally either by state government, non-profit or private corporations and has received support from organizations across the region.

The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, a non-profit based in Penn Yan, New York, has been a staunch advocate of the designation process. "This news is very exciting for the Finger Lakes tourism region. It is the first step to having the Finger Lakes recognized on the National level along with other national treasures that also hold wonderful historic landmarks, natural wonders and simply stunning landscapes.  Recognition by the National Park service for the Finger Lakes as a National Heritage Area will certainly work to enhance tourism in the region which is already a $2.9 billion industry." Said Cynthia Kimble, President of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance

"Together, we can recognize the Finger Lakes and still protect private property by avoiding the traditional pitfalls of big government. Our bill would require that we study the impact of the designation and listen to the people of the region before we act," said Reed.

The bill has garnered wide bipartisan support from members of Congress from across New York State including Reps. John Katko, Louise Slaughter, Paul Tonko, Joe Crowley, Chris Gibson, Brian Higgins, Chris Collins, and Elise Stefanik.

There are 49 NHA's nationwide, including the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

The Finger Lakes stretching over 14 counties and 650 miles of shoreline throughout Western and Central New York, the Finger Lakes is rich in natural beauty with bountiful resources for both tourism and commerce. There are over 400 registered historic sites and landmarks, 135 museums, and numerous art galleries, theater companies, and bed and breakfasts. The Finger Lakes provide the area with a $2.8 billion tourism industry that supports over 50,000 jobs.

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