RI Delegation Introduces Bill to Ensure Funding for Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

Mar 19, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–The Rhode Island congressional delegation joined today in introducing legislation to ensure continued federal funding for the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (JHC-BRVNHC). 

Legislation sponsored by Senator Lincoln Chafee and Representative Patrick
Kennedy, and cosponsored by Senator Jack Reed and Representative Jim Langevin,
would re-authorize a federal fund through which the Corridor has received $5.75
million since 1998.  The bill would authorize $10 million in federal funding for
the Corridor from Fiscal Years 2003 to 2006.

Senator Chafee said,  “The Blackstone River powered the heart of the industrial
revolution for almost a century.  Although the closing of the mills after World
War II ushered in an era of neglect, the creation of the Blackstone River
Corridor in 1986 has allowed the river to relive some of its heyday.  Recently,
the Blackstone River has been transformed into an object of tremendous community
pride and national importance.”

“Working in partnership with two state governments, dozens of local
municipalities, businesses, nonprofit historical and environmental
organizations, educational institutions, and many private citizens, the
Blackstone Corridor Commission has instilled a sense of community and identity
to the residents of the Blackstone Corridor,” Chafee continued.  “This
legislation will ensure that the Commission can continue its efforts to
revitalize and protect this national treasure.”

Congressman Kennedy stated,  "Partnerships which have resulted from the creation
of the Corridor can serve as a model of how government, businesses and citizens
themselves can work together to accomplish a common goal.  Those who have made
the Corridor a success so far have worked across jurisdictional lines of all
kinds to further the aims that the Corridor set out to accomplish.  This
innovative partnership has allowed us to protect our environment and heritage
while fostering development that creates jobs and enhances the regional economy.
 The Corridor's success speaks for itself, and I'll keep working with my
colleagues in the Congress to ensure that this great work continues."

Senator Reed stated, "It is important that we protect for future generations
those things that teach us about our history.  The hard working of ingenious
people from diverse cultures who lived in the Blackstone River Valley has
contributed to making this country great.  We must do everything we can to
preserve their legacy and the unique natural beauty of the Blackstone Valley

"The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, part of
the American Heritage River system, is a fine example of the successes in
preservation and restoration that can come from public-private partnerships,"
said Congressman Langevin.  "The communities, businesses, and civic leaders of
the Blackstone Valley have made great strides in protecting the region's natural
and cultural resources.  The Blackstone is an area rich in the history of
America's industrial age, and it is important that we continue to preserve this
culturally rich area for future generations to learn from and enjoy."

The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

The Corridor was created by federal legislation authored by the late Senator
John H. Chafee, for which the Corridor was re-named in 2000.  The JHC-BRVNHC was
formed in recognition of the region's historical and cultural importance as the
birthplace of America's industrial revolution.  It is the largest National Park
in the North Atlantic region, stretching 46 miles and encompassing more than 20
cities and towns, and more than ten thousand historic structures throughout
Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Since 1986, Congress has established up to three federal funds for the Corridor:
 the Operations Account (staff support), the Technical Assistance Account, and
the Development Fund.  The Development Fund was created in 1996 to provide
funding for construction activities in order to implement a program that
includes interpretive programming, river restoration, historic preservation,
tourism and economic development and educational activities.

Legislation to Re-Authorize the Development Fund

Although authorization for the Development Fund expired after Fiscal Year 1998,
Congress has continued to provide funds for this component of the Corridor.  To
date, the Blackstone River Valley Commission has received a total of $5.75
million ($1.0 million in FY02; $2.5 million in FY01; $1.0 million in FY00;
$750,000 in FY99; and $500,000 in FY98) as a result of Congressional action.

This bill, introduced today by Chafee in the Senate and by Kennedy in the House,
would re-authorize the Development Fund from FY 2003 to FY 2006, with $10
million in federal funding.