A message from Ana B. Koval, President of the Canal Corridor Association…
In all my 27 years with the Canal Corridor Association, 2023 stands out as one of the most successful. This has been a transformational period for our organization and our efforts, as designated by Congress, to enhance and promote the I&M Canal National Heritage Area (IMCNHA).
We have many exciting highlights and reflections to share below, and as you review our success from this year, I ask that you support our Heritage Area by donating to Canal Corridor Association.
Our first and biggest success of 2023 was the reauthorization of the I&M Canal National Heritage Area for 15 years. CCA worked with our sister national heritage areas and the Alliance of the National Heritage Areas (which we helped organize in 1996) to secure the continuance of all national heritage areas until 2037. Our bill passed the U.S. Congress on the next to last day of the 2022 session and was signed into law by President Biden in January. This allows us to keep our National Park Service funding, which is the foundation for our I&M Canal Visitor Center, I&M Canal Boat, I&M Canal Bike Share, Junior Ranger Program, Canal Cleanup, and all our other activities, enabling them to reach thousands of people every year.
As always, we need to raise local funds on a 1 for 1 match to secure these National Park Service funds. Your friendship and support are vital to the success of the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. Every gift makes an important difference for our programs, for expanded opportunities, and for collectively fulfilling our mission. We are grateful—thank you!
2023 was also a celebration year. We marked the 175th Anniversary of the opening of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Many of our organizational partners joined CCA in commemorating this milestone with a host of activities from lectures to day camps and tours to book clubs. Numerous sites along the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area welcomed more people to explore and learn more about this place. And the celebration is continuing through April 2024! Stay tuned for our next newsletter, which highlights many of the activities celebrating the canal!
This year we enhanced our online presence with this new website and continued a robust social media schedule to promote all the activities within our mission and the IMCNHA. Additionally, the Heritage Corridor CVB, now rebranded HC Destinations, asked us to write the articles for their Canal Towns Visitor Guide. We were excited to be able to write about our trails, historic cemeteries, and our local museums among other assets for a wider audience.
At the Canal Corridor Association, we are committed to community-powered economic development, conservation, preservation, and education for our communities and visitors in this special place.
Please join us as we continue to educate, inform, and entertain more people, increasing our young and old stewards for this special place we call home. Thank you. You make our work possible.
Ana B. Koval, President
Canal Corridor Association