March 30, 2009
In what the National Park Service called an “unprecedented” move, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail was more than doubled in size with the signing of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. An amendment added 2,845 miles to the trail, including the newly documented Benge (798 miles) and Bell (955 miles) routes, as well as other water, roundup, water-land, and dispersion sites. The addition of these routes in Arkansas added 33,328,208 acres from twenty-seven counties to the trail. Eighty-eight percent of the additional land is privately owned. Representative Zach Wamp of Tennessee wrote the original bill increasing the historic trail, and Arkansas representatives Marion Berry, John Boozman, and Vic Snyder co-sponsored it, with the entire Arkansas congressional delegation voting in support.