STATION CAMP - Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have announced approval of $500,000 for land acquisition around the historic Lewis and Clark encampment at Station Camp just east of the Chinook tunnel.

The money is part of a package of funding for land buys and preservation projects throughout Washington that was approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee for inclusion in the 2007 Interior Appropriations bill. The legislation will next be considered by the full Senate where such appropriations tend to be rubber-stamped.

Other projects slated for funding include spartina grass control efforts in Willapa Bay, the Fort Vancouver National Historic Area visitor center and land acquisition in the Columbia Gorge.

The Station Camp funding will help pay for the purchase of easements to property surrounding the historic site, located on the Columbia River a mile west of the Astoria Bridge.

Station Camp, once the site of a major Chinook Indian village, is the location where in November 1805 Lewis and Clark's party declared their westward journey complete and took their historic vote on where to spend the winter. The site was added to the new Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in November 2004, along with other historic sites linked to the Corps of Discovery's saga.

"By securing funding to protect Station Camp, Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Murray are conserving one of America's most historic places related to the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery and the Chinook Indian people," said Mark Elsbree, vice president of Northwest Regional Office of The Conservation Fund.

The private, nonprofit organization is helping facilitate the acquisition of easements to the wooded hillsides above Station Camp. The group also helped the National Park Service acquire 900 acres of Weyerhaeuser property for the new Fort to Sea Trail, as well as 150 acres surrounding the nearby Dismal Nitch site.

Plans for interpretive and commemorative displays at Station Camp, to be built in tandem with a re-alignment of a short section of U.S. Highway 101, were delayed last year by the discovery of human remains believed to be those of Chinook Indians.

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