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Monday, April 23, 2012 - 3:06pm

Augusta Canal Authority Seeks Funding Extension

The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area is hoping to convince the National Park Service to continue funding the area for four more years.

The federal government created and funded National Heritage areas 16 years ago to stimulate local and state funding to preserve historical places. But federal money for the projects end September 30th.

Georgia’s Republican U. S. Senator Saxby Chambliss supports extending the funding.

“They have built a whole cottage industry around that. We need to make sure again that the federal government is participating in the right kind of infrastructure projects. From a cost benefit standpoint, it will be a huge benefit to not only Augusta and Richmond county, but to the economy of that whole area.”

About 58 percent of the Canal’s annual budget comes from hydropower revenues. Another 14 percent comes from boat tours, admissions fees and gift shop sales.

Dayton Sherrouse, executive director of the Canal Authority says they’ve only gotten about a third of the federal funding they are eligible for. Officials are hoping they’ll get an extension because of that.

He says federal money has generated a lot of additional funding from other sources.

“You know I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any other program where every federal dollar generated an additional five dollars in direct spending that’s been raised by partnership with other community organizations.”

Sherrouse says the federal funding makes up about 20 percent of their budget. If the extension isn’t granted, he says it would slowdown the extension of walking trails around the canal.