Fort Frederica National Monument Boundary Expansion Act of 2015
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM SHADDOX, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL LANDS, COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING H.R. 3480, TO EXPAND THE BOUNDARY OF FORT FREDERICA NATIONAL MONUMENT LOCATED IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
May 24, 2016
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 3480, a bill to expand the boundary of Fort Frederica National Monument in the State of Georgia, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 3480.
H.R. 3480 would expand the authorized boundary of Fort Frederica to include four new areas containing significant historical, archeological, and natural resources, and would raise the legislated acreage cap.
In 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) completed the “Fort Frederica Boundary Study and Environmental Assessment.” This study was conducted to evaluate the potential inclusion of new areas to Fort Frederica National Monument, following a recommendation from the Monument’s 2002 General Management Plan that the NPS should consider the measures necessary to achieve the protection of nearby related sites.
The study considered three sites north of the existing boundary and one site south of the boundary that have high potential to contain archeological evidence of occupation and use by residents of the British colonial town of Frederica founded in 1736 by General James Edward Oglethorpe. The northern area (approximately 26 acres) is located adjacent to Fort Frederica National Monument’s northern boundary. This area includes three land tracts: the North Marsh (owned by St. Simons Land Trust), Christ Church, and Squire properties. The second, southern area (approximately 147 acres) has one land tract, the Allen Estate. It is located approximately 300 feet from the current park boundary. This southern area borders on the Frederica River. Both the northern and southern areas are generally undeveloped and consist of wetlands and forests and are within the viewshed of the park.
As part of the study process, the NPS considered the current boundary’s capacity to protect and preserve the cultural, natural, and scenic resources integral to the monument, and the potential for new areas to complement the park’s purpose. The NPS solicited input from land owners, community members and the interested public, and representatives of local government and other state and federal agencies. Based on this consideration and outreach, the study team developed a range of alternatives.
Under the NPS’s preferred alternative, the Fort Frederica National Monument boundary would be expanded to incorporate the northern and southern areas totaling approximately 173 acres, and permit the acquisition of these areas from willing sellers. The study found that the owners of these areas were willing sellers. Under this alternative, Fort Frederica National Monument would acquire, manage, and interpret the northern and southern areas to insure their preservation and enhance opportunities for public enjoyment by preserving areas that were once a part of the Town of Frederica for research and interpretation, providing new ways to engage the public and tell the story of Fort Frederica and the township, and preserving the scenic resources associated with colonial Frederica.
The township, designed in 1736 by General James Edward Oglethorpe, used these areas for farming and garden plots by the families and soldiers who lived there. Some portions are also believed to have been used as a campground for troops in 1743. Interpretation of these significant historical and natural resources would, over the long term, enhance opportunities for public enjoyment related to park purposes. Resources associated with the garden plots, troop campground, old Frederica Road, and the colonial cannon battery, Point Battery, could provide excellent research and archeological investigation opportunities. In addition, the majority of the acreage of the Allen property is open marshland and habitat for migrating birds, as well as pristine habitat for other species of flora and fauna.
It would be feasible for Fort Frederica National Monument to administer the northern and southern areas because they are either directly adjacent or very close to the current boundary. Administrative and visitor functions could be expanded easily into these adjacent lands. Land use management would also easily be integrated into existing operations. Fort Frederica National Monument currently manages approximately 282 acres. We anticipate that the northern and southern areas could be readily incorporated into many of the regular maintenance and management activities occurring at Fort Frederica National Monument without added operational or personnel costs.
Fort Frederica National Monument has no development proposed for the study properties. Any development in the future will be kept to a minimum with the possibility of limited trails, waysides, and a small boardwalk with a viewing platform for the purposes of interpreting the significant viewshed and resources of the park. Fencing along the newly acquired properties would be installed at a cost of approximately $5,000. The study makes no recommendations regarding treatment of structures inside the expanded boundary, because no studies have yet been done to determine whether any are historic. Any treatment recommendations for historic properties would be developed at a later date in consultation with the Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer. However, all structures are believed to be non-historic and once studies are completed to confirm this, it is likely that all or most would be removed.
At the time of the study, the estimated value of the three properties within the northern area and the property in the southern area was approximately $3,760,000 according to the Glynn County Property Appraisal Office. Pre-acquisition costs were estimated to be approximately $132,000. . This assumes full fee acquisition by the NPS. Formal appraisals would have to be conducted should any acquisition be pursued. All funds would be subject to NPS priorities and the availability of appropriations.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or any members of the Subcommittee may have.