Matt Blunt has announced that the State of Missouri will begin developing the nation’s longest river water trail in honor of famed explorers Lewis and Clark.

“This will tap into the growing nature and adventure tourism trade by encouraging and facilitating the use of the Missouri River by canoeists and kayakers,” Blunt said. “More than 500 miles of the Missouri River borders or bisects the state, offering us an unprecedented tourism and economic development opportunity.”

At 500 miles, the Lewis and Clark Water Trail would be the nation’s longest river water trail. The water trail could emulate the tourism and economic success of Katy Trail State Park, the nation’s longest developed rails-to-trails project.

More than 300,000 people use the Katy Trail each year. “Many communities along the Katy Trail have seen a resurgence due to tourism traffic,” Blunt said. “The Lewis and Clark Water Trail is expected to have a similar effect on river towns.”

With more than 150 miles of Katy Trail State Park’s 225 miles along the river, many amenities already exist to support the water trail in this area.

Blunt has directed the Missouri Departments of Natural Resources, Conservation, and the Division of Tourism to develop an information campaign for Missourians and state visitors. River access points and the locations of campsites, bed and breakfast establishments, points of historic or natural interest, and outfitters will soon be available through an Internet site and printed materials.