The Lewis and Clark Trail
A Proposal for Development
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Several special problems may impede recreation development of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

1. Lack of funds. Adequate financing to meet planning, development, and operation requirements remains a cardinal barrier to most State, local, and private recreation endeavors.

The recently enacted Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (78 Stat. 897; P.L. 88-578) constitutes the most significant program of Federal financial assistance for recreation planning and development to date. It provides financial assistance on a matching basis for planning, acquisition, and/or development of State, county, and local recreation areas and facilities. If income estimates are accurate and the full amount of the fund and advance authorizations are appropriated, potential grants to the States could reach 120 to 135 million dollars per year.

As a prerequisite to obtaining matching monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for acquisition or development projects, a State will have to submit a comprehensive statewide recreation plan which is found by the Secretary of the Interior to be adequate for purposes of the Act. To insure that funds would be available to State and local agencies for planning and development of recreation areas along the Lewis and Clark Trail, it is necessary that the importance of the Trail be emphasized in the individual State recreation plans.

A recent report by the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission states that, ". . . . not a single new method or new source of financing facilities was uncovered in the private sector. . . ." Yet virtually all the private sources now in use are capable of being expanded, some of them dramatically, given the right combination of public policies.

The same publication suggests a number of steps for improving the economic climate in which private recreation enterprise operates.

Heavy use at existing sites points need for additional recreation facilities.

2. Federal Interstate Highway restrictions. The Federal Interstate Highway System, of necessity, carefully restricts ingress and egress and the use of signs and markers. Eleven of these highways either follow sections of the Lewis and Clark Trail or intercept the Trail at several points. As a result, sections of some Interstate highways can serve as important links in following the Lewis and Clark Trail. For the most part, however, interested motorists must be directed from these high-speed freeways to the local historic and recreation areas along the Trail. To a lesser degree, the same problem exists on the other principal highways that follow the Expedition route.

In view of highway restrictions, a series of distinctive information centers could be built at all rest areas along high-volume routes in the vicinity of the Trail. Such centers could be either elaborate or quite simple. In each case, through the use of interpretative signs, maps, and markers, they should graphically locate for the recreationists the nearest exits, access roads, and locations for all historic and recreation points of interest in the vicinity and should describe the recreation facilities available at each. Such centers could also provide rest rooms and other facilities for the convenience of the traveling public.

3. Pollution of the Missouri River. Pollution of the Missouri River, especially on its lower reaches, is an old and persistent problem. It has long been an obstacle to recreation and wildlife development. The responsibility for pollution abatement must be shared by all levels of government and by private interests.

Some control measures have been instituted, but additional efforts are needed. The dumping of sewage and industrial wastes still continues in some areas. Construction of the main stem reservoirs on the Missouri River has materially reduced the annual sediment load. The muddy color of the water persists, however, and this discoloration is to some extent a detriment to outdoor recreationists. If the full potential of the Lewis and Clark concept is to be realized, there must be a redoubling of efforts at all levels to reduce and eliminate pollution.

State and Federal anti-pollution laws could do much to eliminate this menace to the Missouri. Enforcement of a vigorous and sustained program by local, State, and Federal agencies should do much to cope with the pollution problem. Alternatively, State Pollution Control Boards armed with adequate authority and composed of objective, civic-minded citizens, could prove effective in enforcing existing laws. Such boards have demonstrated their value in several eastern States.

Senate bill 4, known as the Water Quality Control Act of 1965 has been passed by both houses of the Congress and is awaiting conference consideration. If signed into law, this legislation, upgrading the Federal Water Pollution Control Program and strengthening the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, will benefit all Missouri River Basin States in their efforts to control river contamination.

4. Lack of coordination in recreation planning by public agencies. Many States located along the Lewis and Clark Trail have experienced less than optimum development of their recreation resources because of a lack of coordination by the various public agencies involved.

Overlaps or gaps in facilities, maintenance, policy, and planning involve both private and public interests. A major step has been taken to obviate this condition through the establishment of the Lewis and Clark Trail Commission made up of representatives of the ten States involved, eight members of the Congress, five members of the President's Cabinet and four non-governmental representatives.

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Last Updated: 11-Jun-2012