Take Action: Ocmulgee Expansion Vote Set for November 10th

Ocmulgee stamp picture

Ocmulgee 2015 “Passport to Your National Parks” stamp sticker series.

With your help, Ocmulgee National Monument could become much larger in just one week.  If you attended SGA’s Spring and Fall 2014 meetings or live anywhere near Macon, you know this story has been a hot topic this year.  Ocmulgee National Monument, located just outside of Macon, is a park dedicated to protecting and educating the public about its wealth of natural and cultural resources and is famous for the Mississippian mound sites on its grounds.

Background on the Expansion Effort:

In March, the Advocacy Committee submitted comments on behalf of SGA for the Ocmulgee Old Fields Boundary Study and Environmental Assessment during the public review period (February 14 – March 21, 2014).  This study considered whether the National Park Service should propose a boundary expansion for Ocmulgee National Monument, as well as the suitability of certain properties for inclusion in that expansion.  In short, SGA approved of the expansion, which would add 2,100 acres to the 702 acre park.  The study and the public comment period were early steps in the process required to expand the National Monument and to ultimately create the first National Park in Georgia and the first National Park and Preserve east of the Mississippi River.

In April, the Southeast Regional Director of the NPS approved the study.  SGA submitted one of 3,200 comments on the study during the public review period.  Only one comment did not support expansion.  This high number of comments was unprecedented and speaks to the importance of Ocmulgee to Georgia residents.

In June and July, Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and Representatives Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott introduced legislation before the U.S. Senate and House to expand Ocmulgee to roughly 2,100 acres (encompassing the Lamar Unit and Brown’s Mount and to be received from willing donors and sellers), change the name to “Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park,” and authorize a study of nearly 50,000 acres along the Ocmulgee River between the current park and Hawkinsville to be considered for future expansion.  This bill as a whole is a giant step toward National Park status for Ocmulgee.

What’s Up Next:

On November 10th, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation might, MIGHT, hear House Resolution 4991, the legislation concerning the Ocmulgee Monument expansion.  HR 4991 is one of many bills the subcommittee could look at, and they will choose bills based on the apparent interest in them.  If they don’t hear HR 4991 on November 10th, the arduous process of building interest and introducing legislation will have to start all over again at square one.

What You Can Do:

Contact U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, at 202-225-0453 to voice support for HR4991 and ask that it be added to this year’s agenda.  Call every day until November 10th.  Tweet your support for HR 4991 to legislators on the subcommittee, including Rob Bishop @RepRobBishop and Georgia’s Paul Broun @RepPaulBroun.  Tag @ocmulgeepark and @ocmulgeemounds.

So, please, take a few minutes to make your voice heard by those who have the power to make this happen.  And then, spread the word!

More Information:

House Resolution 4991: https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4991

Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation: http://naturalresources.house.gov/subcommittees/subcommittee/?SubcommitteeID=5064

Ocmulgee National Monument: http://www.nps.gov/ocmu/index.htm

Ocmulgee National Park and Preservation Initiative: http://www.ocmulgeepark.org/