The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has released its Special Resource Study of the Ocmulgee River Corridor. The report was a response to legislation from 2019 authored by U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-GA, and former U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. The report is another critical step in the road towards creating a new national park in central Georgia.

It remains to be seen what designation the potential park would receive but it could be the state’s first national park. The state has a number of NPS sites, National Historic Sites like Andersonville or National Recreation Area like the Chattahoochee River, but does not have a National Park designation.

“Designating the Ocmulgee Mounds as a National Park and Preserve will help protect our state’s history and have a lasting, positive economic and cultural impact in Middle Georgia,” said Scott. “I look forward to examining the findings of the Department of the Interior study with Rep. Bishop and our colleagues in the Senate so we can better preserve these cultural and environmental areas of our state for future generations.”

The park would be a boon to the economy of the region. With a National Park designation comes listing in books, posters, brochures – an infinite number of invitations to central Georgia that would immediately pop up across the country. It would also mean increased recognition for the native American presence in the region, notably the Muscogee tribe who themselves were descendants of the Mississippian culture that had thrived before Europeans arrived.

“The Ocmulgee Mounds remain a cultural and archeological treasure to our state and nation. I am pleased to see the work started over a decade ago continues today,” said Rep. Bishop. “I look forward to reviewing the study with my colleagues and local leaders so that we can continue our work to protect and preserve the legacy of this site’s past inhabitants for current and future generations. I will continue this bipartisan, bicameral effort with my colleague in the House, Austin Scott, as well as our new Senators, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, as we move forward to honor the Muscogee Creek Nation and our country’s indigenous peoples as well as ensure that Americans can enjoy this site’s natural beauty and learn about its heritage.”

The beginnings of a national park outside Macon date back to 1934 when Congress authorized the Ocmulgee National Monument. Originally slated for 2,000 acres, local citizens were responsible for financing and only 678 acres was able to be protected at the time. In 2014, Reps. Scott and Bishop partnered with Sen. Isakson and former Senator Saxby Chambliss on the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Boundary Revision Act. That bill is what would eventually pass five years later after a series of roadblocks between House and Senate. That bill also authorized the changing of the boundary from the current 702 acres to more than 2,800 acres.

To read the full report from NPS:

https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?documentID=132895

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