Senate Gives Final Approval to “Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail”

Legislation Goes To President Bush For Signature

The United States Senate followed the House of Representatives on Friday in giving its final approval to legislation that has been spearheaded by Senators Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA) creating 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 legislation, which now goes to President Bush for his signature, 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.

“With the 400th anniversary of John Smith’s travels approaching next year, I am extremely pleased that we were able to move this legislation through both the House and the Senate during this short time period,” said Sarbanes. “This trail will help bring history to life and 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.”

Sarbanes thanked his Senate sponsors of the legislation, Senators John Warner R-VA), 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), as well as the members of the Virginia and Maryland House delegations. 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.

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