...last night also we received the treaty from Paris ceding Louisiana according to the bounds to which France had a right. price 11 and one quarter millions of Dollars, besides paying certain debts of France to our citizens which will be from 1, to 4, millions.”
-- Letter to Captain Meriweather Lewis from President Thomas Jefferson, July 15, 1803
It was President Thomas Jefferson who, in 1803, sent Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark on their expedition to explore the mountains,
plains and rivers of the Louisiana Territory between America's east
and west coasts. It's fitting, then, that the national launch of
the expeditionís bicentennial took place at Jefferson's home, Monticello,
in Charlottesville, Va.
The launch included an opening night reception hosted by the Sierra
Club at Newcomb Hall Main Lounge on the University of Virginia campus
in Arlington, with pre-taped remarks
from U.S. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
"The story of Lewis and Clark as pioneering naturalists exploring
America's wilderness is an important part of our national heritage,"
said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. "Their scientific
descriptions and meticulous journals described 178 trees and plants
and 122 animals -- all new to Western science, and their reports
of boundless grasslands, awe-inspiring mountains, and mighty rivers
fired a young nation's imagination.
"There can be no better way to honor the expedition, or the
explorer in each of us, than to protect and restore the wild America
of Lewis and Clark."
Celebrated nature writer Rick Bass, who lives in the wild Yaak
Valley in northwest Montana, spoke to an audience of 400 people
about his local efforts to protect the grizzly bear and other wildlife
encountered by Lewis and Clark. He noted that in a region that once
supported 100,000 grizzly bears, there are now fewer than 1,000
"We're the only ones that can keep them in this world. It's
like the story of Noah's ark. We're getting a second chance,"