Plan to give Georgia its first national historic park advances

The U.S. House quietly passed Tuesday a second bill in as many months that would pave the way for Georgia’s first national historical park.

The legislation would designate the Ocmulgee National Monument, near Macon, as the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park and expand its boundaries roughly fourfold to more than 2,800 acres. It would also authorize a study looking into further expansion and eventually create a greenway-water corridor with the Bond Swamp Wildlife Refuge and Ocmulgee River.

It follows a measure from U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, that seeks the same designation for the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site.

“Our legislation is a welcomed example of what can be achieved when a local community, state leaders, and Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, collaborate towards a worthy goal, and today’s vote marks an important milestone in many years of effort to bring about increased recognition and enhanced cultural preservation of the Ocmulgee National Monument,” U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said in a statement.

Scott co-sponsored the bill along with U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.

The Ocmulgee site features ancient Native American earth mounds and various tribal artifacts from different habitation periods. Native Americans first settled in Middle Georgia roughly 17,000 years ago.

Lewis’ measure is further along in the legislative process. The House passed the King bill last month, and it recently advanced through a Senate committee.

Both measures will need to pass the full Senate and be signed into law by the president before Georgia can see its first — and perhaps second — national historical park made official.

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