National Heritage Area Feasibility Study - Finger Lakes Heritage Area

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Welcome to the National Park Service's website for information about the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Feasibility Study!

The Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Feasibility Study was authorized by the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 (see the "Links" tab to the left), which directed the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate the natural, historic, cultural, educational, and recreational resources of the Finger Lakes. The study will assess if it is nationally worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation, and continuing use; through designation as a national heritage area.

The legislation identified the following counties to be considered as part of the study: Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates. The feasibility study will also assess the demonstrated support of the community including businesses, residents, nonprofit organizations, and appropriate local, state and federal agencies.

The study's assessment, along with any recommendations from the Secretary of the Interior, will be reported to Congress. The study will assess the region's unique and important American stories, how they can be experienced by the general public, and how a potential new national heritage area would be organized by a coordinating entity, if one were to be designated by Congress.


National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Areas entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.

National Heritage Area designation follows a legislative process: completion of a feasibility study, introduction of a bill in Congress, the bill passing in Congress and becoming a law authorizing the creation of the National Heritage Area.

Once designated by Congress, heritage areas are managed by local coordinating entities who do not acquire or improve lands but rather accomplish goals of interpreting the heritage area history and traditions through partnerships with governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals. A national heritage area is not a unit of the national park system nor is any of its land owned or managed by the NPS, unless such land was previously set aside as a unit of the national park system.

Please use the "Links" tab on the left to visit the NPS National Heritage Area program website.

Contact Information

Chuck Lawson
Project Manager