President Clinton: Celebrating the Legacy of Lewis and Clark and Preserving America’s Natural Treasures

President Clinton: Celebrating the Legacy of Lewis and Clark and Preserving America’s Natural Treasures

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Today, President Clinton will highlight the importance of preserving America’s natural and historic heritage by creating or expanding eight national monuments, including two along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition was launched nearly 200 years ago, the President also will commemorate the efforts of the explorers by granting posthumous promotions to William Clark, Sacagawea, and York, all key contributors to the success of the Expedition. The President will be joined by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, historian Stephen Ambrose, and descendants and representatives of the explorers.

Celebrating the Legacy of Lewis and Clark. Today, President Clinton will recognize the achievements of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and its significance in American history. Nearly 200 years ago, under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark spent close to three years traversing America’s Western frontier. Aided by their Corps of Discovery, they traveled 8,000 miles, hauling heavy equipment into treacherous terrain, and mapping rivers, mountains, and prairies. They navigated and named two-thirds of the American continent, filled their journals with detailed images of the natives they met, and wrote the first scientific descriptions of nearly 300 plants and animals. Their adventure excited the nation with amazing discoveries. The actions the President will take today recognize three individuals who made valuable contributions to the expedition, and will ensure the preservation of some of the extraordinary landscapes explored by Lewis and Clark.

Recognizing Undaunted Courage. President Clinton will posthumously honor three members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery in recognition of their courage and contributions to our nation’s history:

Preserving America’s Treasures. Building on his commitment to preserving America’s treasures and cultural history, President Clinton will create seven new national monuments – two along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail – and expand one existing monument. This action, taken after careful review and extensive public input, will help safeguard the valuable ecology and history of these irreplaceable landscapes for future generations. The Proclamations signed by the President will establish as the overriding purpose of the new monuments the preservation of their unique natural and historic values. Specific protections may vary, but generally the lands are protected from future mining and other activities that would degrade them. Valid existing rights are preserved. The sites are:

In 1805, Lewis and Clark spent three weeks traversing the area, which encompasses an array of habitats including rolling grasslands, white cliffs, rugged badlands, and remnants of ancient cottonwood groves. Their journals describe the fascinating geology of the river banks, the Native American culture, and a vast range of wildlife. Lewis wrote, "The hills and river cliffs which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance…it seemed as if those scenes of visionary enchantment would never end."

Pompeys Pillar is like a sandstone history book. On July 25, 1806, Clark carved his name and date into the pillar's sandstone surface. The pillar also bears Native American drawings and other historical inscriptions. Clark originally named the rock after his nickname for Sacagawea’s infant son. His journal entry described it as "...a remarkable rock [with] the most extensive view in every direction."

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President Clinton: Celebrating the Legacy of Lewis and Clark and Preserving America’s Natural Treasures

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