Federal Designation of the W3R® as a National Historic Trail 

Links to History of the Federal Legislation
and the National Park Service's Evaluation
of the W3R® as a National Historic Trail

For a decade (2000 to 2009) Congress received, referred, reviewed in committee, debated, amended, deferred, combined with other bills, voted on, and funded legislation related to the W3R®. DUring this time the National Park Service (NPS) staff and consultants researched, wrote, presented to expert panels, held public hearings, reviewed, and submitted to Congress studies and recommendations related to those bills. The legislation and the reports are presented here in annual chronologies.

To see the final legislation, click on "Success!"
2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | Success!

2000 -- The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route  
National Heritage Act of 2000 [to STUDY the trail]: ENACTED

This directed the National Park Service (NPS), through the Secretary of the Interior, to submit to Congress a study of the 600-mile route that was followed by the American and French armies in 1781 and 1782 under Generals George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau as they travelled to and returned from the siege and victory at Yorktown. It was introduced in the House as HR 4794 by Rep. John Larson (CT) and in the Senate by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT). It was cosponsored by 42 Congressional delegates.

Status: The bill was signed into law in October 2000 as PL 106-473. See the report in the Half Moon Press, 2000 Nov. For information on other National Historic Trails go to www.nps.gov and search for "trails".
The Expédition Particulière has posted additional information on the
W3R® National Heritage Act of 2000.

2000 - W3R® Designation as a Millenium Trail: ACCOMPLISHED

Status: In October of 2000 the White House Millennium Council designated the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route as a Community Millenium Trail through Bolton CT. The millenium trail logo is shown at right.

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2001 -- NPS Progress on the Requested W3R® Study:  
Public Hearings in Several States: COMPLETED

The NPS assembled a research team and developed a slide show on developing the W3R®, which was shown at public hearings held in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Virginia.


2002-3 -- NPS Progress on the W3R® Study:   
Statement of Historic and Cultural Significance: PUBLISHED

The research team continued its work and drafted a report for study by the NPS advisory board. In early 2003 a 55-page "Statement of Significance of the W3R®" was published. At their 2003 Apr 8 meeting the Landmarks Committee of the National Park System (NPS) Advisory Board unanimously recommended that a complete proposal on the W3R® be developed and presented to Congress for final consideration and vote to be a designated a National Historical trail.

In 2003 Oct the first issue of the NPS' W3R® Newsletter was published.
See our links to posted NPS documents.


2003 - Funding Celebrations of the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution: ENACTED in 2004; FUNDED in 2005

The 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemoration Act provides the National Park Service with funds to support commemorative efforts related to the American Revolution until 2009. This includes commemorative efforts related to the W3R®.

In 2003 May Rep. Morris Hinchley [NY-22] introduced HR 2237 as House Resolution 2237. The Senate Companion bill S 1108 was introduced by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [NY].

2005 July -- The Interior Appropriations Bill was passed by Congress, providing $200,000 for HR 2237.


2004 -- NPS Progress on the W3R® Study:  
Survey of Public Opinion on W3R® Options: COMPLETED

In late 2004 the National Park Service requested public participation in a survey of several options for managing the proposed trail.

2004 Sept 14 -- At a hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands on H.R. 2237, "The 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemoration Act" Dr. James M. Johnson (chair of the W3R®-NY) described the reasons that the nation should commemorate the people and events of the American Revolution -- including the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route .
Read his testimony

2004 Oct 20: W3R® Activities at US National Level -- a report to the Pentagon and to the National Endowment for the Humanities

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2005 -- NPS Progress on the W3R® Study:  
Report on Status of the W3R® Study: PUBLISHED

Public response to a National Park Service survey in late 2004 supported the following option. This support was later noted in the NPS final report, which was printed and sent to the U.S. Congress in May 2007.

NPS Survey Supports Designation
of the W3R® as a National Historic Trail

National Park Service -- 2005 April 20

"The proposed Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route will be established by Congress as a national historic trail within the national trails system. Between Boston and Yorktown, the trail will serve interpretive, educational, commemorative and retracement purposes through recreational, driving and water-based routes.

"The NPS may recommend a shared management scheme with a new nonprofit trail organization, as well as state and local agencies and other interest groups. A trail management plan may be developed by NPS. This plan would include guidance and standards on issues such as signage; certification of sites; interpretive and educational content for exhibits and promotional materials; and research and preservation. A trail advisory board, formed of an appointed group of representatives, would be established to advise the NPS on trail implementation issues.

"The newly established nonprofit trail organization -- which could incorporate constituencies currently constituting the W3R®-USA together with other interested groups and agencies -- would assist with some aspects of plan implementation, as well as undertaking other tasks such as advocacy, commemoration and fundraising.

"Limited federal financial assistance would be provided. It would be dedicated to trail management and administration and to supporting groups engaged in interpreting and preserving the trail and its resources. The federal government would not acquire land or resources associated with the trail.

"Over time, the historic route would be marked as continuous segments on the ground or at water access points; in a few places, physical trail segments could be enhanced. Where feasible, modern road segments this follow the known routes would be marked for travel. In areas where development and related impacts have diminished or destroyed access to or along the historic routes, interpretive waysides or other informational means could be applied, as appropriate. Modern roads could be used as deviations from the original routes if deemed necessary to protect fragile historic resources, provide continuity, or protect public safety."

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2006 -- NPS Work on the W3R® Study:  
Environmental Impact Statement: COMPLETED

2006 early: The NPS study team completed the required Environmental Impact Statement and the full study was sent for review by NPS management.

2006 Nov: Final Report sent to the printer. Production problems delayed public distribution until 2007 April.

2006 -- Congressional Action on Designating W3R® a National Trail
BILLS INTRODUCED: EXPIRED IN COMMITTEE

2006-S.3737 and 2006-H.R.5895, parallel bills to "amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Washington-Rochambeau Route as a National Historic Trail" were introduced in the two houses of Congress and we hoped it would be passed before the 225th anniversary of the siege and victory at Yorktown. Unfortunately these bills expired when the 2006 Congress adjourned without acting on them. Comparable bills were re-introduced in 2007-- see below for details.

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2007 -- NPS Recommends Designating the W3R® as an NHT: 
FINAL NPS REPORT PUBLISHED

The electronic version of the National Park Service (NPS) Final Review Document on the W3R® was available early in the year and the printed rendition was published on 2007 May 01. The product of six years of study, the report recommends designating the Washington-Rochambeau Route a National Historic Trail. It is well-written and richly illustrated. You may view (and download and print) the full-color PDF files from the NPS Park Planning Site

2007 -- Congressional Action on Designating W3R® a National Trail:
BILLS RE-INTRODUCED; COMMITTEE HEARINGS HELD

On 2007 February 26 Senator Lieberman (CT) introduced S. 686 -- "to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Washington-Rochambeau Route as a National Historic Trail". This is essentially the same bill that was introduced in 2006.
S. 686 official summary, full text, sponsors, and status.

2007 March 1 -- Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey [NY-22] introduced H.R.1286, with the same wording as the Senate bill.
H.R. 1286 official summary, full text, sponsors, and status. On March 5 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources -- Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

2007 April 22:   The Senate Subcommittee on National Parks of the U.S. Senate Committee for Energy and Resource held a Legislative Hearing on S.686: The audio portions of remarks related to this bill are presented here (in the order in which they occurred during the three hours of testimony) as MP3 files which can be played by many Web browser programs.

  • Testimony by Kim Burdick [MP3 file, 6 min], chair of the W3R®-US organization. Mike Fitzgerald and David Holloway, who marched the full route, were also at the hearing, and they responded to several questions from Sen. Akaka, chair of the sub-committee.

  • Testimony by Linda Borkow [4 min MP3 file] (Dobbs Ferry Historical Society), requesting that Dobbs Ferry be recognized as an important W3R® site.
Booklet of the April 22 testimony [PDF file] -- W3R® testimony starts on page 26.

2007 May 23 -- In an open business session the Senate committee by a unanimous voice vote of a quorum present, recommended that the Senate pass S.686.

2007 Oct 17 -- S.686 was combined with other related bills into an omnibus bill.
S. 2180 official summary, full text, sponsors, and current status. The "Natural Resource Projects and Programs Authorization Act of 2007" includes the W3R® trail designation under TITLE II--NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, Subtitle C--National Trails, as SEC. 222. WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.
On 2007 Oct 18 this was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. On 2008 May 11 the bill was indefinitely postponed and components (including W3R®) were incorporated into a second omnibus bill S.3213. See below for more on that bill.

2007 Oct 30 --  The House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (of the House Committee on Natural Resources) held a Legislative Hearing on eleven bills, including H.R.1286.

James M. Johnson, Ph.D. -- retired professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point and Vice Chair for Regional Coordination of the W3R®-US -- provided testimony on H.R.1286.   Shown at right are Rep. Hinchey and Dr. Johnson.

The audio portions of testimony and discussion related to this bill are presented here (in the order in which they occurred during the three hours of testimony) as MP3 files which can be played by many Web browser programs.

Read Rep. Hinchey's July Press Release [PDF file]
Read article by Dan Berman in E&E Daily [PDF file]

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2008 Jan to July 10 -- Legislation Advances 
HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES ENDORSE DESIGNATION
HOUSE ADOPTS H.R.1286; SENATE BILL EXPIRES

Over the past eight years hundreds of people have spent considerable time doing the work required to demonstrate its value to historians (professional and amateur) and to the public, contributed money or secured grants to pay for research, publication, public events, and signage, and remained steadfast in determination to secure enactment of legislation recognizing the value of this 680-mile-long trail for public enlightenment and enjoyment.

In 2008 June  sections from the postponed first omnibus bill were incorporated in a second omnibus bill, S.3213, Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman [New Mexico] on behalf of the U.S. Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources.
official summary, full text, sponsors, and current status.
S. 3213 includes the W3R® trail designation in SEC. 514 of S.3213, "Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail".

2008 June 25 -- H.R.1286 was approved by the House' Natural Resources Committee and was reported out to the Floor for debate and a vote.

2008 June 26 -- Sen. Bingaman introduced S. 3213 to the full Senate for consideration.

2008 July 10 -- The House of Representatives debated, amended, and passed H.R.1286.
Read the Floor Summary of the Debate (in reverse time order)
Final Vote Results for Roll Call 484 (Votes Aye and Nay)
Congressman Hinchey's Press July 10 Release for the event. Congressman Hinchey (NY) was the lead sponsor who introduced the bill.


2008 July 11 to Dec 31 -- NATIONAL CRISES PREVENT A VOTE on S.3213

2008 July 29 -- S. 3213 (see above) was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar, from which the Majority Leader could, at any time, take it up for floor debate and a vote. The summer recess put off further consideration until mid-September.

Several major national crises arose late in 2008 (credit market meltdown, home and auto sales and construction collapse, massive securities fraud uncovered). Exploration of and action on these crises took precedence over action on public land issues, so S.3213 was never brought before the full Senate for debate and vote.

Thus, although the House passed H.R.1286 in July 2008 the designation of the W3R® as an NHT could not be signed into law. The review and approval process starts afresh for each new Congress. Companion bills will have to be introduced in both houses of Congress in 2009.

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2009 -- Legislation Advances Again 
BILLS RE-INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE AND HOUSE

2009 Jan 07 -- Senator Jeff Bingaman [New Mexico] introduced S.22, Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, on hehalf of the U.S. Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources. The 1300-page bill included 160 items, most of which had been approved by the Senate committee over six months ago. It designates more than two million acres of wilderness in nine states and establishes three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers, and four new national trails. In 2008 a vote on public lands was delayed by procedural tactics and several national economic crises.
      Official summary, full text, sponsors, and current status
Text of Section 5204 of S.22, which designates the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route as a National Historic Trail.

2009 Jan 08 -- Rep Maurice D. Hinchey [NY-22] introduced H.R.328, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Designation Act. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Official summary, full text, sponsors, and current status
As of January 26 the cosponsors were Castle [DE], Courtney [CT-2], Engel [NY-17], Fattah [PA-2], Holt [NJ-12], Kennedy [RI-1], Lowey [NY-18], Moran [VA-8], Murphy [CT-5], Murphy [PA-8], Oberstar [MN-8], Schwartz [PA-13], Serrano [NY-16].
2009 Feb 04 -- The bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources to be reviewed by the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, chaired by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

2009 Jan 11 -- After an hour of debate the U.S. Senate voted by 66 to 12 to invoke cloture and proceed to a vote on S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. To view a streaming video of the 60-minute debate go to
C-Span's video library page and click on the Flash Video button.

2009 Jan 15 -- The U.S. Senate voted by 73 to 21 to adopt S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. Section 5204 of S.22 is the companion legislation for H.R.328. To become law both the House and Senate must pass the same bill. This sometimes happens after different bills are passed and a conference committee agrees on a single wording that is then (usually) passed by both houses and sent to the President for signing into law. The fastest way to proceed is for the House to pass a bill with the SAME language as the bill that the Senate has already passed so that this bill (including the W3R® provision) can be sent directly to the President for signing into law. Thus when the Omnibus bill was passed by the Senate, House attention focused on passing that rather than H.R.328, which concerned only one of the trails in the omnibus bill.

2009 Jan 16 -- S.22 was received in the House of Representatives and held at desk (to be available for consideration by the full chamber at any time rather than being referred to committee). because the House leadership planned to consider the bill soon.

2009-Mar 11 -- S.22 failed of passage (was not agreed to) in the House. A motion to suspend the rules and to pass the-bill-as-amended (which required a 2/3 affirmative vote) failed by a vote of 282 to 144. (Roll no. 117) It would have passed if two no votes had switched to aye.

2009-03-17 -- Sen. Bingaman proposed a substantial amendment to H.R.146, which had been passed by the House of Representatives on March 3. The original bill dealt with preserving Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefields. Bingaman's amendment added S.22 to the original H.R.146 provisions. Several further amendments were added, and the title was changed to
An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes
      Text of H.R.146 (and status and sponsors)
The part of special interest to the W3R®-USA is TITLE V--RIVERS AND TRAILS, Subtitle C--Additions to the National Trails System, Section 5204 -- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail.
(See page S3236-7 of the Congressional Record for 2009.

2009-03-19 -- H.R.146.EAS was passed by the Senate and returned to the House for consideration of the extended and amended bill.

2009-03-25 -- H.R.146.EAS was passed by the House by a roll call vote of 285-140 after an hour of floor debate. The bill then became H.R.146-ENR (enrolled). You may view the archived CSPAN video of the last 4 minutes of the debate in the House, a considerable time spent voting, and the few seconds announcing the result by clicking HERE to view the video
--- Alternatively you may watch the clip directly from the CSPAN archives (If you have a popup blocker you will have to turn it off temporarily to view the video.) Once the video starts you may drag the lower (time) cursor left to see the whole debate or click on the time cursor and then tap your right and left arrow keys to move the time cursor forward or backward in 30-second jumps.

SUCCESS ! ! The W3R® Becomes a National Historic Trail 

On Monday, March 30, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law
(as Public Law 111-11) the Omnibus Public Land Management Act.
Sec. 5204 designates the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
as a National Historic Trail.

Video of the Signing [YouTube: 18 minutes]


The Omnibus Public Land Management Bill is quite long. Section 5204 (about a third of the way through the text) reads:

SEC. 5204. WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.

Section 5(a) of the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1244(a)) (as amended by section 5202(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(29) WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.--

(A) IN GENERAL.--The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, a corridor of approximately 600 miles following the route taken by the armies of General George Washington and Count Rochambeau between Newport, Rhode Island, and Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 and 1782, as generally depicted on the map entitled `WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL', numbered T01/80,001, and dated June 2007.

(B) MAP.--The map referred to in subparagraph (A) shall be on file and available for public inspection in the appropriate offices of the National Park Service.

(C) ADMINISTRATION- The trail shall be administered by the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with--
      (i) other Federal, State, tribal, regional, and local agencies; and
      (ii) the private sector.

(D) LAND ACQUISITION- The United States shall not acquire for the trail any land or interest in land outside the exterior boundary of any federally-managed area without the consent of the owner of the land or interest in land.'.

You may download the map here ==> T01/80,001; dated June 2007 [PDF]

Press Releases / Media Advisories after March 25, 2009:
     from Rep. Maurice Hinchey [NY-22], original sponsor of the W3R® designation legislation in 2009.
     from the Pennsylvania W3R®: Press Release, updated 4/11 | Media Advisory
     from the Delaware W3R® | the Maryland W3R® | the District of Columbia W3R®

On April 11, 2009 the lead editorial in the Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer applauded the passage of legislation designating the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route as a National Historic Trail and noted that U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was instrumental in securing this designation.

Letter from the Joy Homestead in Cranston RI.

Express Your Appreciation to Congress

#1 -- Go to the Senate Roll Call Vote Index and click on Vote 00106 (for March 19) to see if your U.S. Senator voted for H.R.146. If the vote was "Aye", please Email him or her a brief note of thanks, noting your involvement with the W3R® and your hopes for its future.
      Email addresses for U.S. Senators

#2 -- Check House Roll Call Vote 153 to see if your U.S. Representative voted for H.R.146. If the vote was "Aye", please Email him or her a brief note of thanks, noting your involvement with the W3R® and your hopes for its future.
      Email addresses for U.S. Representatives

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