Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 01, 2006

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Wendy Gibson
Catherine Jimenez

State Parks Announces Heritage Area In Chautauqua County

New Concord Grape Belt becomes New York's first Agricultural Heritage Area

(ALBANY, NY, December 1, 2006 ...) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today announced the designation of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt as the newest heritage area in New York State. The region, running 50 miles along the eastern shore of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County, is one of the largest concord grape growing and juice processing areas in the nation. Heritage Areas are special locations across the state where geography, history and culture express the distinctive identity of New York communities.

"Creation of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt further demonstrates Governor Pataki's visionary leadership in recognizing New York's historic and cultural resources," said State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro. "The Grape Belt has been a vital part of the local economy in Western New York and the agricultural history of the state. By promoting our thriving Heritage Areas program that extends across the state, we are providing heritage tourism opportunities so that future generations may appreciate the importance of protecting and preserving our natural treasures."

The Heritage Areas Program develops, preserves, and promotes the cultural and natural resources located within the state. The Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt includes 30,000 vineyard acres. It is the 19th heritage area in the state and the first agricultural region to receive such a designation. Agriculture is the leading industry in upstate New York.

"This designation recognizes the long heritage of grape agriculture in New York State and its continued importance to our communities. We are excited about the opportunities to increase heritage tourism and markets for our agricultural produce" said Andrew Dufresne, spokesman for the Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, Inc., Westfield, NY. "This area is a perfect match for the objectives of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Heritage Program."

"We have a proud history of growing concord grapes in Chautauqua County that has been vital to our economy and our quality of life," said Senator Catharine Young. "It has been part of what makes our region so special. I was thrilled to pass this legislation in the Senate because it will preserve our heritage and offer new opportunities for economic growth, especially in tourism."

"I am pleased that the Governor has signed this legislation into law, and would like to commend the many people, organizations and municipalities who worked tirelessly to see this designated enacted," said Assemblyman William Parment.

The Heritage Area System (formerly known as the Urban Cultural Park System) is a state-local partnership established to preserve and develop areas that have special significance to New York State. From the Great Lakes to the eastern tip of Long Island, the Heritage Areas encompass some of the state's most significant natural, historic, and cultural resources, as well as the people and programs essential to their development.

The following are a list of New York State Heritage Areas: Albany, Buffalo, Harbor Park (NYC), Heights (NYC), Hudson-Mohawk, Kingston, Long Island North Shore, Mohawk Valley, Ossining, Rochester, Sackets Harbor, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Seneca Falls, Susquehanna, Syracuse, Western Erie Canal, Whitehall.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 176 state parks, 35 state historic sites, 28 golf courses, 77 beaches, 53 pools and more than 9,000 campsites and cabins.