WASHINGTON, D.C. - Pacific County and Clatsop County citizens were recognized in the nation's capital at a hearing in front of a Senate committee Thursday.

Members of the Destination: The Pacific organization attended a confirmation hearing for new National Park Service director nominee Mary Bomar before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The group was in Washington to lobby lawmakers, congressional staff and federal officials on behalf of the proposed Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area.

"It just so happened that the hearing was taking place the week we were there, so we made an effort to attend," said Cyndi Mudge, Destination director, who was joined by group members Jim Sayce and Bob and Judi Andrew.

Bomar, head of the park service's Northeast region, has been tapped by President George Bush to replace former director Fran Mainella, who announced her retirement in July.

At the end of the hearing, committee member Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon "gave a very enthusiastic presentation about why we were there," after which the chairman of the committee had the group stand and be recognized, Mudge said.

"It felt good for our group," she said. "Sitting in the back row, it was nice to be called out and acknowledged."

After the hearing the group had a chance to talk briefly with Bomar about the heritage area project. They also invited her to Clatsop County in December for the completion of the new Fort Clatsop replica, Mudge said.

The heritage area program, administered by the National Park Service, designates regions of the country for their historic and cultural significance. Local organizers are pushing for the formation of a Columbia-Pacific heritage area stretching from Skamokawa to the Pacific and from Long Beach to Cannon Beach, recognizing the early fur trade, fishing industry, and Native American presence.

A bill to fund a feasibility study for the local heritage area project is currently before Congress, with the House version due for completion next week. Progress is less certain in the Senate, but the group was assured that if the bill isn't passed this session it will be in line for approval next year.

"These things are slow," Mudge said.

The group also lobbied for funding for the acquisition of land above Station Camp on the Washington shore of the Columbia River, the final property purchase for the expanded Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

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