The Lewis and Clark Trail
A Proposal for Development
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The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06 was one of history's greatest overland expeditions. It opened the way for settlement of the Northern Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest and it has had a profound and lasting effect on the political, economic, and geographic development of the United States.

The Corps of Discovery, as the Expedition was commonly known, traversed the backbone of America, a region of fertile soils, tall timber, wild rivers and abundant game—a region rich in natural resources. Today, much of the soil has been tilled, some of the timber has been harvested, and portions of the rivers have been impounded. But scenery, wildlife, and other recreation resource opportunities are still plentiful and some of the waterways and rugged terrain remain much as they were when the Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first saw them about 160 years ago.

It is most appropriate, therefore, to formulate a program with the joint purpose of memorializing the Expedition and enhancing the resources along the route for the benefit of the region and for those from all over the Nation who will be attracted to it. Impetus for this program can be provided by the newly established Lewis and Clark Trail Commission, and financing can come in part from the recently enacted Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965.

Such a program should not be the sole responsibility of the Federal Government. Ten States and numerous counties, cities, and towns have been established along the Lewis and Clark Expedition route up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and down the Columbia River. The existing network of highways that provides access to and along this route is under a combination of Federal, State, and county jurisdictions and financing arrangements. Any program to enhance the historic and other recreation resources along this route must result from coordinated action of all levels of government, and from private interests.

As the initial step for such coordinated action, this report presents the findings and recommendations of a Federal-State-local interagency study coordinated by the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Its purpose is to identify the historic, wildlife, and other recreation resources along the Lewis and Clark Expedition route and to present a proposal for continuing action to enhance these resources for this and future generations.

Stewart L. Udall
Secretary of the Interior

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Last Updated: 11-Jun-2012