Hike funding

New funding to provide ‘incredible’ close-up views of the falls

More than $5 million in improvements to Niagara Falls State Park are planned for the coming months due to an influx of new funding from Washington and Albany.

Representative Brian Higgins announced the federal grant of $2.5 million over the weekend, which officials say is expected to be matched and slightly exceeded by state dollars. Once completed, visitors to New York’s oldest state park will enjoy an even closer view of the American Falls with improved access.

“Niagara Falls is a one-of-a-kind destination, attracting millions of visitors from around the world every year,” Higgins said. “This major investment creates new opportunities for close-up views of this great natural wonder and builds on the great strides made in recent years to enhance the park experience.”

State park officials say the stairs at the base of the falls near the Maid of the Mist docks will be upgraded and will allow for better and closer views, as well as improved safety features. Parks spokeswoman Angela Berti said the state-required correspondence for the federal grant is “in the works” and will be announced in the near future.

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But already, she says, park officials are designing the new facilities. Mark V. Mistretta, Niagara Region director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said public hearings will soon be seeking comments and suggestions. Berti added that the hearings should take place in November.

Higgins said the award will improve the area around the observation tower, including an extended stairway path from the Crow’s Nest viewing platform to the Prospect Point viewing area. The upgrades will provide visitors with better access and “incredible” views of the falls, Higgins said.

The federal grant is provided by the National Park Service through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In July 2020, Higgins supported and Congress approved the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently and fully funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the tune of $900 million annually. The new Falls project (supported by the largest grant to date) is funded by the Act, which Higgins says addresses environmental justice through increased investment in green spaces in communities and supports the leisure economy. outdoor activities of $887 billion.

Since the 1970s, the LWCF has funded more than a dozen grants supporting investments of approximately $3.3 million in Niagara Falls State Park. Previous grants have supported improvements to Whirlpool State Park, the Elevator Building, the Niagara Gorge Hike Trial, and other improvements.