Congress sends Trace bill to Clinton

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2000

AP and staff reports

Congress has sent to the president a bill to adjust the boundary of the Natchez Trace Parkway to add about 230 acres of land in southwest Mississippi.

The bill was given final approval Tuesday in the U.S. House, one week after lawmakers formulated an agreement to approve the legislation. It already had passed the Senate over the summer.

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It authorizes the purchase of 150 acres to relocate where the Trace will end in Natchez to Liberty Road, and 80 acres to bring the Emerald Mound, the second largest Indian mound in North America, within the boundaries of the parkway, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Wednesday.

City Attorney Walter Brown said the legislation is a &uot;green light&uot; for the city, acting as agents of the highway department, to begin acquiring right-of-way for the extension.

The Mississippi Legislature provided $8.5 million this year to buy the land.

Once the bill passes executive approval, the Natchez Trace Parkway Commission will also have authority to lease land near Natchez High School, known as the bean field, to the city for recreational use. City officials have plans to construct a $16 million sports complex on the site.

Cochran and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the bill will help complete the final 20 miles of the parkway. The Trace runs for 445 miles through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. In the 1700s and 1800s, the trail linked the old Southwest Territory on the Lower Mississippi River with the Ohio River Valley.

Now, it is a paved road with historical points of interest that runs from Natchez to Nashville.

Meanwhile, Lott said Congress has sent the president a water resources bill that includes projects in Mississippi.

He said the bill includes a provision to add 3,000 acres to wildlife habitat to replace land currently being considered for development along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Lott said the land swap will allow for ports, industrial sites and recreation areas to be developed along the waterway. He said the proposal ”brings a common sense balance between wildlife conservation with waterway commerce.”

The 234-mile long waterway, which cuts through extreme northeast Mississippi to connect the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico, opened to shipping in 1985.

Other projects in the bill are:

-A modification of the Horn Lake Creek and tributaries project that was authorized in 1986. The project is designed to provide flood protection to Horn Lake and Southaven.

-A feasibility study for the Port of Gulfport’s request to expand the port channel from 350 feet to 450 feet wide and to deepen the South Harbor channels from 36 feet to 42 feet and the North Harbor from 32 feet to 36 feet.

-A $10 million authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use dredged material to restore coastal wetlands and barrier islands.

-A technical change to the Vicksburg Lower Mississippi River Museum and River Interpretive Site to allow the $2 million project to proceed.