The National Park Service (NPS) and Macon-Bibb County today announced the county has donated several land parcels totaling 250 acres to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.
The 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9) nearly quadrupled the park’s authorized boundary, then at 701 acres. This acquisition increases the park’s boundary to 1857 acres and follows closely on the heels of NPS’s recent purchase of 906 acres from a willing seller.
“Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is a memorial to more than 12,000 years of continuous human habitation by multiple Indigenous cultures and peoples,” said Carla Beasley, superintendent of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. “These land donations from Macon-Bibb County contribute to that memorial and enhance the park’s ability to share and interpret the significance of those cultures to American history.”
The newly acquired area contains evidence of one of the longest periods of human habitation in a relatively small area. The 250 acres is situated within the Ocmulgee Old Fields, also known as the Macon Reserve, a three-by-five-mile site revered as a sacred place to Muskogean people. The Ocmulgee Old Fields-Macon Reserve is comprised of lands specifically retained by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from 1805 until the 1826 Treaty of Washington and other treaties that culminated in removing Muskogean people from their ancestral home to present-day Oklahoma. Reserving this land from major development provides opportunities to tell a more complete story of American history. The triumphs and tragedies of those who called this area home for thousands of years continue to shape our lives today and define our collective heritage.
“This is one of the most important efforts for our community and our region, from preserving history to increasing recreation opportunities and tourism,” says Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester M. Miller. “I’m grateful for the team that has been working together so diligently at all levels of government and with all the partners to keep this moving forward.”
Additional support from the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative and National Park Foundation helped facilitate the land transfer. “The civic support this project has in our community is astounding. Middle Georgia’s commitment to the cultural and ecological preservation of these sacred lands are emblematic of who we are and want to be as a region,” said Seth Clark, executive director of the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative. “This is truly a community effort and its impact will be generational.”
The donated lands lie to the southeast of the main portion of the park. The newly acquired land will initially be closed to the public as the NPS develops a management plan to identify effective ways to preserve the integrity and interpret the site while also providing access to it. The NPS will invite public involvement in planning for the site.
Established in 1936 as a unit of the National Park Service, the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park preserves and interprets evidence of one of the longest periods of human habitation at any one site in the national park system. Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park has yielded artifacts from every major period of American Indian history in the Southeast. Visitors are encouraged to explore earthen mounds, a restored ceremonial earth lodge with original clay floor, an early colonial trading post, and Civil War earthworks.