Eastern Legacy Extension Act

Floor Speech

Date: July 23, 2018
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from California, Chairman McClintock, for his help on this bill; the gentlewoman from Guam, my friend, Ms. Bordallo, for her support as well; Chairman Bishop and all the members and staff of the Natural Resources Committee for their important work and for bringing this legislation to the House floor today.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to recognize my son, Hudson, I guess named after a river, for tagging along with me and being here as well.

Mr. Speaker, as most of us learned in high school history, in 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were commissioned by President Jefferson to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean across the United States.

This bill, the Eastern Legacy Extension Act, formally recognizes the important role States like Indiana, my home State, played in the expedition by extending the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail to the east.

Currently, the trail only marks the western portion of Lewis and Clark's expedition. However, these explorers, as other speakers have said, traveled nearly 1,000 miles along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before arriving in present day Missouri.

In fact, the town of Clarksville, Indiana, is named after William Clark after he famously stopped there to recruit members for the expedition.

To properly recognize this historic expedition and preserve the entire route Lewis and Clark took, Congress previously requested the National Park Service to study extending the trail along the route they took east of the Mississippi.

In February 2018, the final study was released, recommending that Congress designate the eastern leg of the expedition as part of the trail. This bill makes that a reality, and by recognizing the eastern portions of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, we make the entire national trail stronger.

This legislation will increase tourism opportunities for communities in Indiana and the rest of the 4,900-mile route and promote historic appreciation for the role Lewis and Clark played in making our country what it is today.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation for their work on this legislation and, again, thank the committee and the chairmen for their work, too. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.