Congress Approves Creation of First National Geologic Trail

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 25, 2009
Contact:   Sean Smith, NPCA P: 206-818-4041


Congress Approves Creation of First National Geologic Trail

Passage of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Designation Act Commemorates Flood Route

Washington, D.C. - The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, today praised Congress’s passage of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Designation Act, which authorizes the creation of the first national geologic trail in the National Park System. The legislation, included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, now awaits the President’s signature.

"Passing this legislation is an important step toward increasing public understanding and appreciation of the Northwest’s natural history," said Sean Smith, NPCA Northwest regional director. "We thank Sen. Cantwell, Rep. Reichert, Rep. Dicks and Rep. Baird for their leadership and continued efforts to bestow national recognition on this important Northwest landmark."

The Ice Age Floods trail will consist of a network of marked touring routes, accessible by car. The trail follows the path of pre-historic floods that carved the Columbia Basin in the Western United States, starting in Missoula, Montana, and ending at the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. These immensely powerful floods, which inundated portions of the Northwest during the last Ice Age, originated from glacial lakes that formed ice dams. When the dams broke, soaring masses of water shaped the landscape of present-day Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, and carved the pathway of the Columbia River Gorge.

NPCA has worked closely with the Ice Age Floods Institute for the passage of this legislation through public education, including an art exhibit at NPCA’s Northwest Regional Office in Seattle.

"The trail will provide our region with coordinated interpretation of this impressive story," Smith added. "And it could also bring a flood of tourists to the Northwest region, increasing the economic viability of the area."

According to the Small Business Institute at the University of Montana, a new Ice Age Flood visitor center in Missoula would generate between $733,000 and $3.9 million annually. Communities such as Polson, Montana; Lewiston, Idaho; Ellensburg, Yakima, and Spokane in Washington; and Eugene and Astoria in Oregon are expected to see similar economic benefits.

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