Ocmulgee urges Ossoff and Warnock to help with park status
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Two new leaders have been named for the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative (ONPPI), and both want to see national park status as soon as possible.
Macon-Bibb Commissioner Seth Clark and Chris Sheridan are now Executive Director and Chairman of the board.
Sheridan says his love for the Ocmulgee runs deeper than the river.
“I’ve been coming here all my life,” he said. “After school I would walk down to the river and just enjoy it. I’d pick blackberries and shoot squirrels.”
Sheridan says he’s glad to be a part of something bigger than himself.
“It’s just a continuation of making this community a better place,” he said. “When you walk that trail and you see people, it might be a tiny nod, or a big hug, but you’re going to connect. It’s those connections that connect us with those people that lived here 17,000 years ago. It lives inside every one of us and gives purpose to our lives.”
Macon-Bibb Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clark will work with Sheridan to bring the park to national park status.
However, before they can achieve that status, they need help to raise $1.2 million.
ONPPI asks that the community step up to match grants given to the preserve initiative for acquiring the land needed to complete the park. Clark says he hopes the community will invest in the park to maintain it for the next generation.
“I spend a lot of time here,” Clark said. “I fly fish a lot… and I get to show my son how important this place is to me. These lands raised me. My grandfather taught me how to fish on this river, and I will work to preserve it for my son until I can’t anymore.”
Three years ago, a group of scientists began studying the Ocmulgee and evaluating it for national park status. The original plan was to take the scientists’ findings before Congress. Clark says he believes help from state senators could speed up the process.
“While I am terribly optimistic about the success of this mission, I know we’re going to need help,” Clark said. “We need the help of our congressional delegation, Senators Ossoff and Warnock, Congressman (Austin) Scott and (Sanford) Bishop. We need you all to take this up as your cause.”
The Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative says national park status would bring more than 350 jobs, 1.1 million visitors to Macon, and provide a $26.7 million economic boost to the area each year.