Delegation travels to Washington to protect lands of Lewis and Clark Sierra Club volunteers and staff from across the West are headed to Washington, DC this week to ask Congress for acquisition of key wildlife habitat and historical landscapes in the lands explored by Lewis and Clark nearly 200 years ago. Conservationists will be meeting with Sen. Daschle and Johnson, as well as Rep. Janklow, to discuss opportunities for public land acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal funding program that funds new land purchases with government royalties from offshore oil leasing revenues.
America's oldest and largest grassroots conservation organization is advocating for nearly $70 million in funding to acquire special places such as Ft. Pierre National Grasslands located near the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
"This trip will provide the opportunity to purchase special landscapes in the Lewis and Clark country, landscapes that will improve public opportunities to fish, hunt and camp in some of the same places that the Corps of Discovery explored nearly 200 years ago," said Chas Jewett, conservation organizer in Sierra Club's Rapid City office, and a member of the delegation visiting offices in DC,
Citizen lobbyists will be advocating for the purchase of new public lands in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Spectacular properties are available for purchase from willing sellers in the magnificent Columbia River Gorge.
, on the border of Oregon and Washington, and on the Lewis and Clark trail in the Clearwater National Forest of northern Idaho.
Montana has funding priorities on the historic Lolo Trail and in the Taylor Fork area of the Gallatin National Forest, while North Dakota is looking for expansions to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. South Dakota and Nebraska are seeking an expansion of Badlands National Park, as well as protection for areas along the Missouri River.
"Here in South Dakota, were are concerned with rapid development and loss of habitat, and that is why we are working so hard to acquire these special places," said Jewett. "The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition makes us aware of how much we have lost, but we also have a great opportunity to protect and restore the wildlands that are left," said Jewett.
This is the second annual trip to Washington by the Sierra Club to promote conservation of "Lewis and Clark landscapes" through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Last year's work led to acquisition of some properties in the Columbus River Gorge in Oregon, and further results are still being analyzed from the recently passed FY2003 appropriations bill.
"The Corps of Discovery explored areas all along the Missouri River," Said Jewett. "We are seeking the help of our legislators to protect areas in the Badlands, Ft. Pierre National Grassland and other outstanding natural areas so that our communities and future generations can continue to enjoy them.