Contact Your Senator Today: A Call to Action.
There is new proposed legislation that would seek to bypass Georgia laws in place to locate, study, and protect archaeological and other natural resources. A copy of the text can be viewed HERE.
The Georgia Senate is considering new legislation (SB 346) in the coming days. Representatives of SGA and other concerned citizens have spoken before the Senate Transportation Committee and heard the following joint statement.
The Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA) and Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists (GCPA) are deeply concerned by Senate Bill 346. It proposes to exempt state-funded road projects under $100 million from review under the Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA). The GEPA process ensures state agencies like the GDOT take environmental effects into account during government undertakings. In our view, this proposed exemption is arbitrary and threatens Georgia’s irreplaceable archaeological sites and shared cultural heritage.
The great state of Georgia contains world-class archaeological sites, from evidence of ancient Clovis peoples, the first known inhabitants of North America, to monumental American Indian mound sites and villages. In Georgia, you can find the encampments of Spanish Conquistadors, among the earliest historic sites in the entire nation, as well as antebellum plantation and slave sites, Civil War battlefields and POW camps, and other spectacular historic places up through the modern day. These places are important to our heritage and contain extremely important information about Georgia’s past. Some are also final resting places and hallowed ground. Sites can only be protected if they are identified, recorded, and reported.
Senators of the Transportation Committee, as you consider this legislation please remember that GEPA does not regulate private construction or put any burdens on the state’s businesses. GEPA simply makes sure that state government undertakings are done conscientiously, with due consideration to environmental resources such as water quality, ecology, history, and archaeology. Please support Georgia’s cultural heritage and environmental quality by opposing SB 346. For any questions about Georgia archaeology or the issues raised, please see the SGA (http://www.thesga.org) and GCPA websites (http://georgia-archaeology.org/GCPA/) or contact the present leaders of the respective organizations directly: SGA President Joseph Roberts, 404-583-0495 or GCPA President Richard Moss, 678-910-0792.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
Let the legislature know the that public opposes the bill because it would bypass laws in place to ensure studies are undertaken on state funded transportation projects in order to protect natural resources like archaeology sites. The passage of this bill would have national implications for cultural resources. It threatens to impact small businesses in Georgia. The legislation also directly threatens environmental resources overall, as it would exempt studies for environmental effects reports for state funded transportation projects. Let your voice be heard and contact the committee to share your stories and concerns. You can contact your Senator by consulting this list. In addition, please also use the contact information below for the members of the transportation committee:
Senate Transportation Committee:
Tommie Williams (District 19), firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Gooch (District 51), email@example.com
Brandon Beach (Bill Co-sponsor) (District 21), Brandon.Beach@senate.ga.gov
Ginn, Frank (District 47), firstname.lastname@example.org
Heath, Bill (District 31), email@example.com
Seay, Valencia (District 34), firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler, Gloria S. (District 55), email@example.com
Dugan, Mike (District 30), Mike.Dugan@senate.ga.gov
Jackson, Bill (District 24), firstname.lastname@example.org
Jones, Burt (District 25), Burt.Jones@senate.ga.gov
Lucas, David (District 26), David.Lucas@senate.ga.gov
Tippins, Lindsey (District 37), email@example.com
Watson, Ben (District 1), firstname.lastname@example.org