New Study Finds Partnerships Along the Lewis and Clark Trail Are Critical to Preserving Historic Landscapes

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   September 14, 2006
Contact:  

Ron Tipton, National Parks Conservation Association, 202.223.6722, ext. 266
Shannon Andrea, National Parks Conservation Association, 202.454.3371 



New Study Finds Partnerships Along the Lewis and Clark Trail Are Critical to Preserving Historic Landscapes

Washington, DC – A new study released today by the National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Center for State of the Parks indicates that continued trail partnerships along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail are key to preserving the lands and waters that the explorers discovered 200 years ago.  NPCA advocates that more trail partnerships with local landowners, both public and private, will help protect and restore the historic treasures once experienced by Lewis and Clark.     

“The National Park Service must expand its network of partnerships in order to assure the protection of historic sites along the Lewis and Clark Trail,” said NPCA’s Senior Vice President Ron Tipton.  “Partnerships are key to successfully managing the trail and securing additional funding for projects.” 

According to NPCA’s State of the Parks report, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail owns only 78 acres of the lands or waters within the boundaries of the 3,700-mile long trail, lacking the authority to actively manage many of the historic landscapes.  As a result, the protection and restoration of these areas rely immensely upon cooperation with a variety of landowners, including other national parks and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, American Indian tribes, state museums, and local historic groups.

Currently, extensive monitoring and research along the trail takes place through numerous local and national partnerships; however, information that is collected needs to be compiled to inform the Park Service’s trail management.  Additional trail partnerships and funding would also encourage creative restoration efforts for adjacent lands and waters surrounding the trail.

External developments such as dams, agriculture, water projects, and urban growth have altered much of the lands and waters along the Lewis and Clark Trail.  For example, due to human influences, backwater sloughs, oxbows, and wetlands that originally characterized the Missouri River no longer exist.  Habitats for native animals and plants have been altered, free-flowing water has largely disappeared, and more than 80 species of native fish, birds, plants, and mammals are listed as rare or endangered.

“The bicentennial commemoration offers an important opportunity for Americans to rediscover the historic treasures and magnificent natural heritage Lewis and Clark found on their journey,” said Tipton.  “Now we must work together to ensure these places are protected and preserved unimpaired for future generations to enjoy.”

In 1995, Congress created the Challenge Cost Share program to appropriate funds to the Park Service for use on National Scenic and Historic Trails.  Since then, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail has received increasing amounts of funding from this program to support preservation projects and expand interpretive and educational programs.  In 2005, Congress appropriated an additional $5 million to the trail; however, funding for these projects will soon be greatly reduced after the bicentennial commemoration. 

In 1978, Congress established the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail to tie together 120 historic sites associated with the Corps of Discovery. The trail, which extends for 3,700 miles from Wood River, Illinois, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, commemorates the expedition. Sites along the Lewis and Clark trail use the story of the expedition to tell larger stories of the American narrative, such as foreign affairs, domestic issues, gender and race questions, and American Indian sovereignty.

In early 2006, legislation was introduced in Congress to expand the trail eastward from St. Louis to Washington, D.C., to include additional sites associated with the preparation of the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

NPCA launched the landmark Center for the State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the health of national parks across the country.  The new report, National Parks Along the Lewis and Clark Trail, assesses the cultural and natural resources at six national parks associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition, including the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Missouri National Recreational River, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, and Nez Perce National Historical Park.  Report findings indicate that the National Park Service needs additional funding to protect, preserve, and interpret these historic treasures.  View a copy of the full report.

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