Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Ms. Charlene Cutler

Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc.

Statement of
Charlene Perkins Cutler,
Executive Director and CEO, Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc.
to
The Subcommittee on National Parks
 of the
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
Concerning
S. 574, to amend The Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor Act of 1994.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on S. 574, to amend the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor Act of 1994.  I am the executive director and CEO of Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc., the grassroots nonprofit designated as management entity for the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor.

I ask that our document, The Trail to 2015, a Sustainability Plan, be entered in its entirety into the record of this subcommittee.

To summarize that document, I am pleased to say that Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor Inc. has been very successful in its work to date in fulfilling the intent of Public Law 103-449, the responsibility given to us by the Congress, and the visions and goals of our Management Plan.  It is our intent to be self-sustaining and not need federal funding by the year 2015. 

• Our Heritage Corridor has been diligent and has completed a Management Plan, an Implementation and Action Plan, an Interpretive Plan, a Ten-Year Plan that extended the vision of the original management goals, and now a Sustainability Plan.  Those guiding documents were completed in a timely and efficient manner, and have been truly useful documents.
• We have shown a consistent ability to maximize scarce resources by developing and fostering partnerships with federal, state and municipal governments, and regional corporate and private entities.  We have acted as an educator and facilitator to motivate other organizations to take independent actions in line with our mission. When the Heritage Corridor was the only or most appropriate entity, we have taken action through specific projects or programs to do critical work.
• Our Heritage Corridor has received numerous state and national awards recognizing the excellence of our work, including the 2005 Public Education Award from the American Planning Association for our Green Valley Institute.
• We have consistently met and exceeded the required match on our federal appropriation.  The third page of my written testimony includes an analysis of our funding and non-federal leverage since 1994.  The cumulative ratio is $19 to each federal dollar.
• Direct grants to 191 local projects have funded work in trail development, historic preservation, economic development, heritage tourism infrastructure, natural resource conservation and community planning.  The Sustainability Plan offers many examples of these projects.
• Hundreds of volunteers have given more than ten thousand hours of service last year to our mission-related projects and programs, and 7,045 participants have benefited from our FY05 education programs.
• According to our FY05 audit, 89% of the Heritage Corridor’s expenditures, regardless of source, go directly into programming.

Our communities and residents increasingly look to our Heritage Corridor as a source for guidance and assistance, and as an advocate for resource conservation.  We have developed credibility at the local, regional, state and federal levels.  The need to continue the work to fulfill the mission will be present for several decades.   That is why we adopted the Sustainability Plan this January and why we are committed to achieving its goals.

There are two key elements to meeting those goals:
o In order to maintain credible programming that will attract significant, long-term, non-federal resources, it is critical to retain the federal investment over the next ten years.
o Reauthorization to 2015 would leverage significant, multiyear, non-federal commitments that are essential to our self-sustainability.
       
Therefore, we respectfully request that the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor Reauthorization Act of 1994 be amended to extend the period of authorization from 2009 to 2015, and to extend the appropriation from $10 million to $16 million, to coincide with our timetable to be self-sustaining by the year 2015.  I thank Senators Dodd, Kennedy, Kerry and Lieberman for their support of our work and this amendment.

I am pleased to answer any questions the Subcommittee may have.  This concludes my prepared testimony.

       Respectfully submitted,

       


       Charlene Perkins Cutler
       Executive Director and CEO