National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
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Fort To Sea Trail Project

Description: The National Park Service (NPS) worked with the local community of Astoria, Oregon and the Oregon congressional delegation to identify an appropriate boundary expansion of the Fort Clatsop National Memorial, newly expanded and authorized as the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park, develop relationships with landowners, and translate the proposed expanded boundary into Federal law.

In 1955 community volunteers constructed the replica of Fort Clatsop and developed an informal trail from the replica Fort to the Pacific Ocean. The trail used existing dirt roads and traversed private property. Through the 1960's Boy Scouts were able to earn a merit badge by hiking the makeshift trail and doing a community service project. As a result, there is broad base of fond memories using this trail. By the early 1980's the NPS had stopped encouraging use of the makeshift trail. In 1995, after four years of planning and public involvement, the NPS formally adopted the idea of creating an official Fort to Sea Trail as part of the Fort Clatsop General Management Plan. The Fort to Sea Trail proposal called for the development of partnerships with the State of Oregon and local entities to construct a 6.5 mile pedestrian trail to connect the fort replica to Sunset Beach.

The Oregon delegation, led by Senator Smith, Senator Wyden and Congressman Wu spent two years getting the boundary expansion passed in Congress. In 2002, President Bush signed into law the Fort Clatsop Expansion Act which authorizes an expanded boundary for the park specifically to construct the Fort to Sea Trail.

The 2002 Congressionally-authorized expanded boundary includes private property that connects the trail from the existing fort, across property currently owned by the Weyerhaeuser Corporation and two other private land owners, (which will be purchased by NPS) and up to the Hwy 101 right of way directly across the entrance to Camp Rilea, a training facility owned and managed by the Oregon Military Department. The expansion authorization also allowed the National Park Service to acquire a 150-acre parcel at Sunset Beach that would serve as the terminus of the trail.

To ensure the completion of the trail Oregon Governor Kulongoski designated the Fort To Sea Trail his first Oregon Solutions Project in March 2003 to facilitate collaboration between the partners on trail location, trail ownership, design, funding and construction, transportation solutions and other economic and community implications.

"This project is a wonderful example of what we can accomplish when we bring together local, state and federal partners," said the Governor. "The Fort-to-Sea project will commemorate an important part of our history and will add a beautiful stretch of Oregon coast to the vibrant park system that visitors and Oregonians already enjoy."

In July 2003, a Declaration of Cooperation to plan and build the trail was signed by the Oregon Solutions Team. The team includes representatives from:

  • Clatsop County,
  • the Governor's Economic Revitalization Office,
  • the Northwest Economic Revitalization Team (Oregon Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Economic and Community Development, Division of State Lands, Department of Land Conservation and Development),
  • Oregon Military Department,
  • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department,
  • Weyerhaeuser Corporation, and
  • National Park Service.

The National Park Service and Oregon Parks and Recreation committed key staff to the project. Oregon Parks and Recreation is providing the State Trail Coordinator to work with the Fort Clatsop Superintendent to co-manage the project. Oregon Parks and Recreation is also providing a construction project manager and part time trail crew leader and assistance from their engineering staff. Though approximately half the trail will ultimately be on federal land and half on state land, the partners are managing the design and construction as one project.

Half of the trail will be on NPS land and half on State of Oregon land. The state land is managed by Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Military Department and Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department. Most of the land that will be under NPS jurisdiction still needs to be acquired. All of the alignment across state land has been acquired. To facilitate management of the project, the trail was separated into nine segments, each containing unique issues or features.

For the portion of trail on NPS land, the project partnership will provide a trailhead at the park visitor center, convert an unmaintained dirt road to a multi-use trail leading to a ridge with a view of the ocean, and provide a "backcountry" hiking-only trail that will descend the ridge to Hwy 101 and state land. The NPS section will require one major (70 foot) pedestrian bridge and 300 feet of boardwalk.

The trail on state land will consist of a pedestrian underpass at Hwy 101, cross onto the Oregon Military Department's Camp Rilea where it will traverse along the eastern and southern boundary and then cross onto Sunset Beach, now owned by Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department. This section has two major (120 foot and 150 foot) pedestrian bridges. A simple trailhead, with vault toilet and limited parking, will be constructed at Sunset Beach.

Through the work of the Oregon Congressional Delegation, approximately $7.75 million in land acquisition money will be appropriated to the National Park Service to buy land for the trail. To date, $1.5 million has been appropriated to date. The president's FY05 budget requests the remaining $6.25 million. The State of Oregon is making a large, critically-important investment in land acquisition for the trail, including purchasing Sunset Beach for $700,000 and $300,000 to purchase a piece of property to allow for the trail to connect from the pedestrian underpass at Hwy 101 to Camp Rilea. The estimated total cost of the project, including land acquisition, is $11.33 million.

Funding still needs to be secured for the construction of the trail. A $69,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation was awarded to NPS in 1998. Ten thousand dollars has been used to pay the North Cascades National Park Trail crew to produce a trail plan and stake the alignments for two segments of the trail. An additional $10,000 funded a Student Conservation Association Oregon High School Trail Crew. The remaining funds of $49,000 will be used for other facets of trail construction.

In August 2004, high school students built the first two miles of the trail of a trail. The National Guard is donating the services of its Innovated Readiness Training Program to build the remaining sections of the trail.

Seven private firms are providing pro-bono services to support the project. This includes design and engineering for the three pedestrian bridges, design of an overlook, surveying, environmental compliance and permitting, a vegetation management plan, project management, and lining up of additional donated resources.

The trail is important to help preserve and interpret the legacy of Lewis and Clark expedition at Fort Clatsop. The natural resources of the area through which the trail will pass, provide outstanding opportunities to interpret elements of the Lewis and Clark story not told elsewhere. Much of the land is currently managed for commercial forest products. The National Park Service intends to manage the landscape to restore vegetative communities that would have been present at the time of the expedition. The trail will create an opportunity for school groups, families, and those interested in the stories of Lewis and Clark to experience the landscape the Corps of Discovery encountered. The trail runs through the homeland of the Clatsop Indians -- one of the tribes that helped ensure the survival of the Discovery Corps. The Clatsop still reside in the area and the park is working with the tribe to include the perspectives of the native peoples in the stories told at the Fort.

The signature events in Oregon for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial will occur in Fall 2005. It is anticipated the Trail will be completed by June 2005.

Fort Clatsop became part of the larger national historic area - stretching from Oregon's Ecola State Park on the south of Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco, Washington - when President George W. Bush signed the bill creating the Lewis and Clark National and State Historic Park on both sides of the mouth of the Columbia River in October 2004.

Geographic area covered: Originally, Fort Clatsop National Memorial was 125-acres and located approximately 5 miles south of Astoria, Oregon near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The new Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks includes Dismal Nitch, also known as the Megler Rest Area, Station Camp, Cape Disappointment State Park, all in Washington state, Fort Clatsop, The Fort To Sea Trail, Netul Landing, Salt Works and Fort Stevens and Ecola state parks in Oregon.

List of partners and relationships: Governor of Oregon's Community Solutions Office, Oregon Park's and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Military Department, Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, Division of State Lands, Clatsop County, Weyerhaeuser Corporation, the National Guard and the National Park Service.

Accomplishments to date: Guided tours will begin in July 2004.

  1. $1.25 million in Federal land acquisition funds appropriated.
  2. $1.0 million in land purchased by the state.
  3. $1.54 million in state funds allocated to construct pedestrian underpass; design is complete.
  4. Partnership established between federal, state, local and private entities; partnership working to manage the overall project.
  5. Trail alignment established.
  6. Design and engineering underway.
  7. Construction underway on one segment.

Key success factors:

  1. Understanding the needs and desired outcomes of all partners.
  2. Asking party that is perceived as neutral to serve as convener of work group.
  3. Ensuring the project is ripe to be worked on.


  1. Ability for a small park to manage a complex partnership and meet all expectations.
  2. Lining up resources from the NPS to match resources offered from others.

Most important lessons learned to date: Clearly articulating expectations and limitations.

What would you do differently next time: Nothing.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study):

For more information:

Name: Chip Jenkins
Affiliation: Superintendent, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park
Phone/Fax: 503-861-4401

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements_X_; Facility Management __; Trails _X_; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Chip Jenkins Date posted: 7/15/04
Phone: 503-861-4401

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Staff and partners working out conceptual alignment of the trail
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