Sarbanes and Warner Spearheading Legisaltion to Highlight 400th Anniversary of Historic Voyages
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today unanimously approved legislation being spearheaded by Senators Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA) that would create a National Historic Trail designating the route of Captain John Smith's two-year exploration of the Chesapeake Bay region almost 400 years ago.
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, S. 2568, would be the first National "Watertrail" in the Country. In April 1607, three ships arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay after a four-month voyage from England carrying colonists who would establish the first permanent English settlement in North America and plant the seeds of our nation and our democracy. John Smith would then travel in a small 30 foot "shallop" some 3,000 miles, reaching from present day Jamestown, Virginia, to Smith Falls on the Pennsylvania border with Maryland and from Broad Creek in Delaware to the Potomac River and Washington, DC. His journeys brought the English into contact with many Native Americans for the first time, and his observations of the region's people and its natural wonders are still relied upon by anthropologists, historians, and ecologists to this day.
"As Jamestown's 400th anniversary quickly approaches, designating the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail will bring history to life," said Sarbanes, who testified in support of the legislation on May 16 and applauded the Committee's prompt action on the legislation. "This trail will serve to help educate visitors about the new colony at Jamestown, John Smith's journeys, the history of the 17th century Chesapeake region, and the vital importance of the Native Americans that inhabited the Bay area. It will also provide new opportunities for recreation and heritage tourism not only for the more than 16 million Americans living in the Chesapeake Bay's watershed, but for visitors to this area from throughout the country and abroad."
Other sponsors of the legislation, in addition to Sarbanes and Warner, are: Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Tom Carper (D-DE), and George Allen (R-VA). The trail proposal has also been endorsed by the Governors of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland and numerous local governments throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. The measure is also strongly supported by the National Geographic Society, The Conservation Fund, The Garden Club of America, the Izaak Walton League of America, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, as well as scores of businesses, tourism leaders, private groups and intergovernmental bodies.