Stevensville resident Margaret Gorski has been elected President of the National Lewis and Clark Heritage Foundation and will take office on October 1, 2013. The non-profit Foundation was formed in 1969 and has members in all fifty states and several countries.
In 1964 Congress established the Lewis and Clark Trail Commission. The Commission worked for five years to identify and mark the Lewis and Clark Trail, advance public awareness of the significance of the expedition, and encourage conservation and outdoor recreation objectives along the expedition route. In 1969, the Commission issued its final report with a number of far-reaching objectives, including the establishment of one or more groups “to further the broad program developed by the Commission.” In that same year, individuals who had served on the Commission and its state committees established the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation as the main group to succeed the Commission.
Gorski’s involvement with the trail began when she was working as District Ranger at the Powell Ranger Station in Idaho where she administered thirty miles of the Lewis and Clark Trail. This was just about the time that the Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial celebration efforts were underway and Gorski served as the National Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service. She served in this capacity for eight years and worked closely with the Foundation during that period.
The Lewis and Clark Trail was the first national historic trail to be established in the United States. Since that time several others have been established including the Nez Perce Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Oregon-California Trail and the Appalachian Trail, to name a few. Gorski said that, following the establishment of the Trail system, many people thought the effort was complete and the job was over.
“Not so,” said Gorski. “The trail exists and there is lots of work to be done to preserve its historical integrity, preserve and develop access to the Trail, and to educate the public about the Trail’s importance in the country’s development.”
A commemorative coin issued by the U.S. Mint generated $1.6 million that was given to the Foundation for stewardship of the Trail. The Foundation has a library and archive located in Great Falls.
“It’s a wonderful organization and has become a very special part of my life,” said Gorski. She is currently on her way to the annual Foundation meeting and is excited about planning for the organization’s upcoming 50th anniversary.
For more information about the organization visit the web site at www.lewisandclark.org.