Press Release Feb 9, 2017

New Study: Creation of Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Would Bring Economic Growth to Middle Georgia

Analysis commissioned by NPCA and Knight Foundation highlights economic benefits of enhanced designation for Ocmulgee National Monument and river corridor

MACON, GA – Creation of an Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve would drive a significant increase in economic activity for middle Georgia communities, a new analysis shows.

The Ocmulgee National Monument is a premier historic site in middle Georgia, featuring centuries-old Native American mounds, as well as rich natural resources. The Ocmulgee River corridor provides outdoor recreation opportunities for hunters, anglers, hikers, bird watchers and paddlers.

The report, “Diamond in the Rough: An Economic Analysis of the Proposed Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve,” shows that consolidating the public lands along the river corridor to create a national park and preserve would dramatically increase tourism to the site, supporting restaurants, hotels, retailers, and other businesses throughout the region.

The report was commissioned by National Parks Conservation Association and funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It was conducted by economists at the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Key findings from the report indicate that within 15 years of creation:

  • An Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve could experience a roughly six-fold increase in annual visitation over existing public lands operating separately.

  • The enhanced designation would add an estimated $206.7 million in annual economic activity in middle Georgia, as well as an additional $76.5 million in annual labor income and $29.8 million in added tax revenue.

  • An Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve would support an additional 2,814 jobs – over eighteen times the number of jobs currently supported by the Ocmulgee National Monument.

“In terms of history, culture, and wildlife, the Ocmulgee National Monument, along with the floodplains and forests between Macon and Hawkinsville make up one of the last best places in the southeast,” said Chris Watson, Southeast senior program manager for National Parks Conservation Association. “By honoring this special place, a National Park and Preserve could not only advance the conservation of treasured resources, but also bring increased economic growth and prosperity to middle Georgia.”

“Making Macon a more vibrant place to live and work is key to our community’s success,” said Lynn Murphey, Knight Foundation program director for Macon. “The added economic benefit of creating an Ocmulgee Park and Preserve, as detailed in the report, could help to keep and attract talent in our city, while spurring new community development and growth.”

Bipartisan legislation recently reintroduced in Congress – the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act of 2017 (HR 538/ S 135) – would take an important step toward exploring this proposal by approving further study of the river corridor between Macon and Hawkinsville. The bill is supported by Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and Congressmen Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott. It passed on a bipartisan basis in the House of Representatives last month, and is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.

The full report and executive summary are available here.

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About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.2 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. KnightFoundation.org.