Plan for Georgia’s first national park advances in Congress

Georgia recently took a significant step closer to garnering its first national park.

A U.S. House committee unanimously approved earlier this month a proposal designating the Ocmulgee National Monument, near Macon, as the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

“Passage of our bill in the House Natural Resources Committee is an important step, bringing us closer to strengthening the current Ocmulgee National Monument; bolstering the economy and cultural life of Georgia; and realizing a lasting memorial, enduring for generations,” U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, said in a statement.

Georgia is already home to national historic sites (such as Andersonville), national heritage areas (Arabia Mountain), national recreation areas (the Chattahoochee River) and a national seashore (Cumberland Island). Ocmulgee, if approved by Congress and the president, would join Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Everglades as designated national parks.

Native Americans first settled in Middle Georgia roughly 17,000 years ago. Burial mounds and earthen lodges built by the Mississippians circa 900 A.D. remain intact.

The legislation seeks to expand the 702-acre national monument into a 2,800-acre park and, eventually, create a greenway-water corridor with the Bond Swamp Wildlife Refuge and the Ocmulgee River.

For more information, go to www.ocmulgeepark.org/.

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