Residents of our district and other parts of upstate New York share a common heritage through the creation and useful life of the Erie Canal. This treasured waterway passes right through the 134th Assembly District, connecting the majestic waters of the Niagara River with the thriving metropolis of New York City on the southern tip of the Hudson River valley. Our community has benefited for decades from the prosperity of the Erie Canal, which now is part of the greater New York State Canal System.
This marks the 181st consecutive navigation season on the canal system. The season began in late April this year, which means boaters and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a few extra days on New York’s waterways.
The most significant improvements to the canal’s operation this year are elimination of recreational boater tolls and longer hours of use. Boaters can ride the entire state canal system without paying a single penny in tolls, something that can spark more tourism and recreation along the system. The longer hours of operation give users longer days to enjoy New York’s waterways.
Gov. George E. Pataki’s vision to create an Erie Canal Greenway led to the creation of many bike trails and walking paths that are accessible this summer to residents, visitors and other individuals looking for a nationally significant historic site to learn about and enjoy. It provides another source of tourism and more recreational destinations for all to visit.
The Erie Canal Trail Celebration will be held Saturday, June 3 in conjunction with National Trails Day to celebrate the opening of more than 30 miles of new canal trails.
The state Canal Corporation, which operates the system, is sponsoring its first-ever “CanalSplash!” celebration on August 12 and 13 that will feature over 60 hikes, bike rides, canoe paddles, historical tours and more. It’s expected to become an annual event.
For more information about the canal system and related special events, and to learn more about its cherished history, contact my office, call canal officials toll-free at (800) 4CANAL4 (422-6254), or visit www.canals.state.ny.us.