Ohio & Erie Canalway Evaluation – Positive Findings Released to Congress


The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and its Founding Organizations – Canalway Partners (Ohio Canal Corridor) and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition – are proud to report the positive findings of a National Park Service Evaluation and Audit submitted by the United States Department of the Interior to Congress.

Highlights of the Evaluation are below. The entire 158-page report on Evaluation Findings – issued by Westat on behalf of the United States National Park Service is available for download.

The Evaluation confirms the collective progress we have achieved based on the goals set out in the original Management Plan. These achievements are themselves a product of the regional partnerships that have coalesced to implement the many projects, plans and programs that have created routes, restored our heritage and enhanced the ways visitors explore our region.

As the Ohio & Erie Canalway approaches the 20th Anniversary of its 1996 designation as a National Heritage Area, we thank you for your ongoing partnership and look forward to the next generation of collaboration and success.


Tim Donovan, Co-Executive Director of the NHA / Executive Director – Canalway Partners

Dan Rice, Co-Executive Director of the NHA / President & CEO, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition

Tom Yablonsky, Board Chair, Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area

Gary Klasen, Board Chair, Canalway Partners

John Judge, Board Chair, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition

Key Findings

Use of Federal Funds

Based on the analysis,

  • The Ohio & Erie Canalway has successfully met the 50 percent federal funding match requirements over the entire funding period and annually since 1998. In fact, it has exceeded those requirements, securing more than $3 local match dollars for every federal dollar expended.
  • The Ohio & Erie Canalway has been able to successfully leverage the NPS dollars to attract funding from other local sources and to generate its own revenue.
  • The Ohio & Erie Canalway has been very effective in obtaining significant external matching funds. While the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association does not engage in fundraising activities, the two founding organizations, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and Canalway Partners, have strong fundraising capacities.

Of the funds available since 1998, approximately 23% or $10.3 million were from NPS funds and 77% or $36.5 million were from non-federal funds and external matching contributions.

Ohio & Erie Canalway Expenditures – Breakdown

  • Resource Conservation activities account for 42%, including improvements to the Canal, trails, and historic sites and that these Restorations have had a significant impact.
  • Interpretation and Education/Visitor Experience account for 28%, including development of trail heads, visitor centers, and historic sites.
  • Community and economic development accounts for 21%, including revitalization of the Canal, construction of the Towpath Trail, and related activities to spur economic development.
  • Regional planning accounts for 9%, including the Management Plan, which was approved in 2000 and adopted by 58 local jurisdictions as well as nonprofit and civic organizations.

The evaluation concludes that Canalway Management has been fiscally responsible in expending all funds for programmatic and operational activities as it pertains to the authorizing legislation and management goals.

Impacts of Investments

Of particular interest, Westat collected data that suggest the area is attracting and engaging residents and creating a positive impact in the following areas:

  • Interviews with key stakeholders as well as community members, indicated the popularity of the Canal as a destination for exercise and fitness.
  • Several business leaders interviewed indicated that the Canal provided a good “quality of life” experience for their employees and that they encouraged their workers to use the Canal resources and Towpath Trail for wellness activities.
  • Business leaders indicated that they used the positive outdoor recreational activities associated with the Canal as a way to recruit employees to their companies.

In addition, projects associated with the Canal provide residents with a sense of pride in the area. Almost all stakeholder interviews indicated that the revitalization of the Canal, the construction of the Towpath Trail and related activities spurred economic development in their communities.

View the full report

Related: Ohio & Erie Canalway Renewed as National Heritage Area

Learn more about the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area