Ocmulgee River Corridor SRS
The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a Special Resource Study of the Ocmulgee River Corridor between Macon and Hawkinsville, Georgia. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 (Dingell Act) directed the Secretary of the Interior to complete the study, the purpose of which 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.
The study area incorporates a corridor of approximately 50 river miles touching the Georgia counties of Bibb, Twiggs, Houston, Bleckley, and Pulaski. 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 it is in private or public ownership.
The 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 turkey, and many species of waterfowl.
The 1998 National Parks Omnibus Management Act (54 United States Code 100507) established the process for identifying and authorizing studies of new national park units. A study area must meet four criteria to be recommended as an addition to the national park system. These criteria include: 1) national significance, 2) suitability, 3) feasibility, and 4) need for NPS management. The study process is linear, and each of the four criteria are evaluated sequentially. If the study finds that the river corridor does not meet one of the criteria, the study will not evaluate the subsequent criteria.
While the NPS is conducting the study, the designation of national park units is ultimately the purview of Congress and the President. The purpose of the study is solely to evaluate the area and report to Congress.
Currently, the NPS is synthesizing public comment on the study. More can be learned about the study process and the resources of the study by visiting the study's informational website (see the "Ocmulgee River Corridor Storymap" under the Links tab to the left).
The Dingell Act provides for a three-year time frame to complete the study. Once the report is received by Congress, it will be made available to the public.