National Historic Trail Proposal
To amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to jointly conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the William O. Douglas Trail in Washington State as a national historic trail.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “William O. Douglas National Historic Trail Study Act of 2012.”
SECTION 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that—
- Early survey maps, surveyor field notes, and historic studies indicate that the William O. Douglas Trail route follows many miles of the ancient Yakama-Cowlitz Pass Indian Trail, where thousands of moccasins have passed through the centuries across Yakima, Pierce, and Lewis Counties and the Cascade Crest near Mount Rainier National Park. This historic trail was a key regional Native American travel route for trade, commerce, exploration, and migration.
- Historic maps and studies show that the William O. Douglas Trail was an important travel route across Washington State for early pioneers and settlers who were exploring, migrating from the east, and settling in the Pacific Northwest.
- The William O. Douglas Trail route includes Tieton Dam and the Rimrock Lake Reservoir, part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s “Yakima Project,” one of the nation’s earliest and largest irrigation projects. The Yakima Irrigation Project converted nearly a half million acres of sage-covered land into one of the richest agricultural areas in the nation.
- Biographical information and historic records document frequent use of the William O. Douglas Trail route by former United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who in his youth explored and studied the wild landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The writings, speeches, and United States Supreme Court opinions authored by Justice William O. Douglas indicate that explorations along the William O. Douglas Trail route profoundly affected national policies with respect to the nation’s natural landscapes.
- Designation of the William O. Douglas National Historic Trail would give recognition to the enduring Native American culture of the Columbia River Basin, the history of human migration and settlement in the Northwest, and the life and legacy of United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. The William O. Douglas Trail also has significant potential to provide new opportunities for public recreational use, heritage tourism, and multidisciplinary education.
SECTION 3. WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY.
Section 5(c) of the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1244(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(44) The William O. Douglas Trail, extending approximately 80 miles from the City of Yakima to Mt. Rainier National Park, as generally depicted on the map entitled ‘William O. Douglas National Historic Trail (proposed),’ and that consists of a corridor of open space that traverses 12 ecological zones; features arid steppe, canyons, mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers; and connects Mount Rainier National Park and the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area (Wenatchee National Forest) to the City of Yakima Urban Area for public use and enjoyment. The above-described map of the William O. Douglas Trail shall be on file and available for public inspection in the appropriate offices of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall jointly conduct the William O. Douglas National Historic Trail study. In conducting this study, the Secretaries shall identify public recreational use opportunities and methods for preservation and interpretation of the trail area by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, other federal, state or local governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations. The completed study of the William O. Douglas National Historic Trail shall be transmitted to Congress within three years after funds are first made available for this study.”