REPS. BISHOP AND SCOTT AND SENATORS ISAKSON AND PERDUE REINTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO CREATE GEORGIA’S FIRST NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) reintroduced legislation to create Georgia’s first national historical park, entitled the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act of 2017. Concurrently, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The legislation seeks to expand the current Ocmulgee National Monument from 702 acres to 2,800 acres, change the name of the park from “Ocmulgee National Monument” to “Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park” to increase name recognition, and authorize a resources study to include recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and camping. During the 114th Congress, the previous version of the bill successfully passed unanimously through the House Natural Resources Committee and the full House of Representatives. The previous Senate version of the legislation passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee but was ultimately held up from full Senate consideration largely due to timing issues.
“The Ocmulgee Mounds are a true cultural and archeological treasure to the state of Georgia, and the creation of Georgia’s first national historical park will preserve the important legacy of the site’s past inhabitants for current and future generations,” said Congressman Bishop. “I am pleased to reintroduce this legislation with my Georgia colleagues in the House and Senate. The bill has received strong, bipartisan support in the past, and I am eager to see it enacted into law as expeditiously as possible.”
“Ensuring that the Ocmulgee Mounds receive the historical recognition they deserve will have a lasting positive economic and cultural impact in Middle Georgia,” said Congressman Austin Scott. “It is for our constituents in Middle Georgia that we come together in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to reintroduce this legislation that will preserve our state’s history for future generations.”
“Designating Ocmulgee National Monument as Georgia’s first national historical park would be an exciting distinction for middle Georgia’s tourism industry, not to mention that it would help preserve its rich historical and archaeological heritage,” said Senator Isakson. “I’m pleased to again introduce this legislation in the U.S. Senate.”
“I’m happy to join Senator Isakson and my colleagues in the House in working to expand the Ocmulgee National Monument’s boundary and designate it as a national historical park,” said Senator Perdue. “The site is truly one of our state’s historical treasures and this designation will help protect a piece of Georgia’s rich history.”
Due to its history and archaeological importance, expanding Ocmulgee National Monument to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park will be a lasting memorial to how individuals relate to the land and other natural resources. This expansion and improvement will be a fitting tribute to the Native Americans who first came to this historic site during the Paleo-Indian period. The park also will generate tourist revenue for Macon, Georgia and the surrounding areas while educating visitors on the little known fact that different cultures have occupied this land for thousands of years. The mounds and earth-lodges that the Mississippians built to serve as formal council chambers when they arrived in Macon around 900 A.D. remain intact for all to see and appreciate.
Ocmulgee National Monument was originally authorized by Congress in 1934 to protect a fraction of the lands commonly known as the 'Old Ocmulgee Fields,' upon which certain Indian mounds of great historical importance are located. The legislation envisioned a large park of approximately 2,000 acres but local citizens could finance the acquisition of only 678 acres by the time it opened in 1936. Today, the Ocmulgee National Monument contains 702 acres. The role of the Ocmulgee National Monument is to "present a story of many stages of prehistoric cultural development, emphasizing the influences of agriculture, the Mound Builder period, and the relationship of these various cultures to each other and to life today."
The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act enjoys support from the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee [Creek], and Seminole Nations), which represent over 500,000 Native Americans throughout the United States. The measure is also supported by Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, the Macon Chamber of Commerce, the Macon-Bibb Visitors Bureau, the Macon-Bibb Commission, the Macon-Bibb Economic Development Commission, and the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative.