Comment Period Opens On Ocmulgee River Park Proposal
An organized effort to create a National Park on the river could include turning state-owned WMAs and Bond Swamp NWR over to National Park Service management.
GON Staff | January 26, 2021
An effort to create a National Park along the Ocmulgee River from Macon to Hawkinsville has taken the next step as the National Park Service (NPS) has opened public comment on the proposal.
The comment period is part of a Special Resource Study of the Ocmulgee River Corridor being conducted by NPS. The purpose of the study is to identify whether the Ocmulgee River Corridor meets specific criteria to be recommended for potential inclusion as a unit of the national park system.
This process began to gain traction in March 2019 when Congress authorized quadrupling the size of Macon’s Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, formerly managed and designated as a National Monument. The park currently is 702 acres, located beside the Ocmulgee River. The Interior Department is currently in negotiations to expand the Ocmulgee Mounds park to 2,800 acres within Bibb County. However, Congress provided no money for land purchases to expand the size, so park promoters, led by a group called the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative, are raising the approximately $2.5 million needed to complete the initial part of the Ocmulgee Mounds expansion plan.
Now, the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative seeks to “expand, unite and link” the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park to extend from Macon all the way down the river corridor to Hawkinsville. They want to incorporate lands that are already public—state WMAs and federal lands along the Ocmulgee River. These tracts include Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and three state Wildlife Management Areas—Oaky Woods, Ocmulgee and Echeconnee Creek WMAs.
Sportsmen concerned about state WMAs and Bond Swamp NWR land being turned into a National Park should take part in the comment process and note in their comments that these lands are already well managed by state and federal agencies, and that there is no need for NPS to assume control and the costs associated with incorporation of these lands into a National Park Service unit.
Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) told GON in a September article about the park proposal that the agency would be strongly opposed to losing state WMA land to National Park management. Likewise, National Wildlife Refuge personnel said they too would be opposed to losing Bond Swamp NWR to a National Park.
See Article on the Ocmulgee River National Park Proposal
The NPS will host virtual public meetings on the Ocmulgee River Corridor Special Resource Study Feb. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Feb. 17, 1-3 p.m. Links to join the virtual meetings may be accessed on the project website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OcmulgeeRiver. During the virtual meetings, the NPS will share information about the special resource study process, including the criteria used to evaluate a site for inclusion in the national park system, and answer participants’ questions. The meeting presentations will be identical and interested parties are encouraged to attend the time most convenient.
Comments and questions about the special resource study may also be submitted online via the project website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OcmulgeeRiver.
Or, you mail your comments to:
National Park Service
Denver Service Center
Attn: Ocmulgee River Corridor SRS 12795 West Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
Public comments will be accepted through March 26, 2021.
“Public and stakeholder input are critical to the National Park Service special resource study process,” said Ben West, regional chief of planning and compliance, National Park Service. “The information, interest and inquiries we receive from the public help inform our work as we assess an area’s potential to be included in the national park system.”
The study findings—which will be reported to Congress, along with any recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior—will center on the area’s national significance, suitability, feasibility and need for direct NPS management. The study is expected to run through 2023.
A NPS press release announcing the public comment period said: “The Ocmulgee River corridor includes a rich human history with archaeological resources dating from the Paleoindian Period through World War II. Particularly significant are extensive American Indian resources, including Mississippian mound sites and sites associated with Muscogee Creek heritage and history. The river corridor is comprised mostly of bottomland hardwood forest and swamp with some upland forest in the terraces above the floodplain. Diverse wildlife in the area include black bears, white-tailed deer, wood ducks, alligators, wild turkeys and many species of waterfowl. Major public land holdings in the area include Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park; the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; Robins Air Force Base; and the Echeconnee Creek, Oaky Woods, and Ocmulgee State Wildlife Management Areas. There are also several public river landings. Much of the property in the study area is undeveloped, whether in private or public ownership.”
More information about the study is available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OcmulgeeRiver.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy
Do not the let Feds take control. If they turn it into a National Park, no ore guns or hunting there.
Let Georgia people manage Georgia land. My vote is NO!
I vote no to any expansion of Ocmulgee River Park. It’s big enough now. With all the problems in this country and the debt load we carry we sure don’t need to be spending money on a Federal Land grab.
Do not let the gov’t get their hands on public hunting property paid for by Georgians. It will greatly restrict access to all the lands along the Ocmulgee River corridor. Georgian tax dollars bought these properties. We would lose any control of how these get utilized now and in the future. My vote is a strong NO!
I vote no! I agree with Mr. Cranford. What the good tax paying sportsmen need is a nice reservoir in middle ga.
Do not allow the Federal Government to control more state land. They would do as they please and Georgia would have no say in the matter. One example is when Congress can’t agree on the budget and parks are closed allowing no access to the land to state residents that would have access otherwise. These lands have been acquired with sportsman licences and sport related tax money. I do not want to lose what we have helped obtain over many decades. I vote NO!
I vote no to federal control. What we need is a lake so you dont have to travel 2 hours or more to a decent reservoir.
Just what we don’t need giving the federal government more control of our land and our lives. No thank you.
Do not let the Federal government have any Ga.state land. Guns will be prohibited by executive order and no personal carry.
Plus fees will go up every year- look a lake Lanier and all the camp sites. Georgia people need to control Georgia land period.
Use will drop under federal rangers control . The will shut the gates at their discretion just like Hartwell and Lanier.
Please don’t do it. Plus Rangers will be politically appointed on fed money.
No land for feds! We are already losing habitat to non game users ,no more!
Not ONE INCH!
Do not surrender ownership of one inch of Georgia land to the Federal Government. Why allow a Congress that does not respect the sovereignty of states to occupy us without a fight. My vote is NO!
I am concerned about the shooting range on the property. Wondering if it will be closed. If so I would vote NO.