021319_ frederica

Fort Frederica stands in the distance Monday on St. Simons Island. The U.S. Senate passed a bill Monday that would allow a significant expansion of its boundaries.

It’s been a long time coming, but the U.S. Senate passed a massive public lands bill Tuesday, and included is a provision expanding the boundaries of Fort Frederica National Monument.

“I am so pleased to see the Senate pass this legislation to preserve the rich, historical significance and archaeological heritage of some of Georgia’s oldest landmarks,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a statement. “This legislation will give visitors a chance to experience Georgia’s history while also providing an economic boost for the tourism industry. I thank the many federal, state and community leaders who have supported these efforts and congratulate them on today’s good news.”

The legislation would mend a 1936 law to allow the maximum boundary limit to increase from 250 acres to 305 acres. That would include 21 acres owned by the St. Simons Land Trust that the trust bought for $3.5 million in 2007 for this purpose. This particular effort’s been in the works for at least nine years.

“These bills are going to improve the way public lands are managed and conserved at the ground level,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said. “A lot of these bills are import to the residents of small towns across America. Many of the bills in this package do not have a significant impact outside their local sphere. These are truly local bills.

“As such, it is rare for these bills to receive consideration on the Senate floor. Really, what we are saying is by themselves, it would be hard to move something like this. As a package that takes on — it has been, what, four years I believe since the last — five years since the last land package has been done. That’s really the reason it’s been quite time-consuming. I want to again thank the tireless work of my colleagues.”

Just putting together this bill — which tops out at 662 pages — was a monumental undertaking.

“But when you take a package that’s over — over 100 bills from over 50 different senators and over 90 who have signed on as co-sponsors, that demonstrates something,” said U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The vote was 92 in favor and eight against. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., presided over the vote, which also included provisions for the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon and Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park in Kennesaw.

“Expanding the parks’ boundaries and preserving their history is a top priority for many Georgians and will boost tourism in our state. I’m hopeful the House will get this bill across the finish line and to President Trump’s desk soon.”

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, worked on a number of House bills in recent years to expand Fort Frederica’s boundaries, including the latest — House Resolution 114 — which was referred to a House subcommittee Feb. 5.

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