Senate votes to establish park; bill journeys to House for final approvalThe expansion of Fort Clatsop National Memorial took another step toward reality Wednesday, with the U.S. Senate's vote to establish the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.

It's one of three important milestones this week that include a Senate committee's approval for land acquisition funds, and an agreement between the Washington State Historical Society and a local family for land at the proposed new Station Camp park.

The Fort Clatsop bill, which the Senate passed unanimously, now goes back to the House, which approved a similar measure in July. The newly named Lewis and Clark park will take in the original Fort Clatsop park as well as three sites in Washington, plus the new Fort to Sea Trail to Sunset Beach.

Congress two years ago gave the original go-ahead for the growth of Fort Clatsop park from 130 to 1,500 acres.

On Tuesday, the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee approved $5 million for land purchases for the expansion. The funding recommendation will now go to a conference committee for final action, then on to both the House and Senate for final votes on the Fort Clatsop Expansion Act.

"As chair of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial in Oregon, I'm grateful to Senators (Ron) Wyden and (Gordon) Smith - as well as Washington's Senators (Patty) Murray and (Maria) Cantwell - for their leadership in funding this Act," said state Rep. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

"The Act represents a singular opportunity to create a lasting legacy that will protect part of our heritage, promote regional economic development and enhance public access to this historic site."

The three Washington sites slated for inclusion in the new Lewis and Clark park are Station Camp, Megler Rest Area and a proposed Thomas Jefferson Memorial at Cape Disappointment State Park.

The Washington State Historical Society confirmed it has reached an agreement for the purchase of property from the Garvin family for the Station Camp project. The new park, located one mile west of the north end of the Astoria Bridge, will commemorate the site where the Lewis and Clark party declared its westward journey completed and voted on where to spend the winter.

The project includes re-routing one mile of U.S. Highway 101 to the north to make room for a riverfront park near the site of the current Station Camp wayside and St. Mary's Catholic Church. The purchase from the Garvin family - 14.5 acres for $660,000 - includes a provision allowing one of the family members, Katherine Garvin, to live in a nearby residence on the property for the rest of her life.

Historical Society Director Dave Nicandri said project organizers are obtaining the last remaining permits and collecting data on archeological items found at the project site. The first part of the project, re-routing the highway, is expected to be completed next June, and the first phase of the park finished in time for the local commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in November 2005.

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