UMATILLA - Those taking a stroll along 17 miles of the Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail stretching along the Columbia River in Umatilla County may note a new addition to the scenery: informative signs.

On Thursday, the first of five signs providing maps and detailing the geological and cultural history of the area were posted beside the trail between Irrigon and Umatilla. The next three will be placed on the trailside in Umatilla, and another will likely go to Hat Rock, City Administrator Larry Clucas said.

The trail has always been there, said Umatilla County Lewis and Clark Trails Committee Chairman John Price, noting the cities and agencies that own the land hope to leave an enduring marker.

"We wanted something that would last," he said. "The trail will be here after we're dead and gone."

The trail has been seeing a steady increase in visitors, said Rich Scheele, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat technician.

"It's going up every year," he said. "It's used by people, big time."

Five signs are being planned for installation along the 33 miles of trail in Morrow County called the Columbia River Heritage Trail.

Morrow County Planning Director Carla McLane said those signs will attempt to strike a balance between Lewis and Clark, American Indian history and geology.

"The commentary on the signs is not just about Lewis and Clark," she said. "We took a broader view."

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