Political Notes – Muscogee Nation urges Deal veto

[private]One of the largest Native American tribes, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is urging Gov. Nathan Deal to veto legislation that they think poses a danger to burial mounds and other important cultural sites.

The Oklahoma-based tribe is concerned about SB 346, which initially exempted local- and state-funded road projects costing less than $100 million from state environmental impact reviews.

As the bill proceeded through the legislative process this year, it picked up the “Bulldozing History” nickname from archaeologists and cultural preservation specialists who worried it would endanger historic and cultural sites.

SB 346 was amended in the House to restore some protections for historic sites, but the Muscogee Nation is still concerned about the possible impact of the bill if it should become law:

Under SB 346, GDOT would still have to follow federal study and reporting laws, which cover projects using federal funds, land or permits but would waive state laws in regards to this on projects using state funds that cost under $100 million.

MCN Cultural Preservation Department Interim Manager and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer RaeLynn Butler said . . . the majority of GDOT projects in Georgia will be state instead of federally funded due to a bill that passed last year.

“So what that means is the regulations and kind of protection that sacred sites or cultural resources, environmental studies, those kind of get overlooked because that federal funding isn’t involved,” she said.

She said that this bill would leave MCN [Muscogee Creek Nation] out of the equation and not allow the Nation to comment on or be made aware of projects that could intersect with tribal towns, burial grounds, sacred places or other culturally relevant sites.

MCN has historic interest in the entire state of Georgia. Many sites are undocumented or unknown.

Will Hall pull the plug on Glades Reservoir?

Hall County has withdrawn its application for a permit for the proposed Glades Reservoir, which long had been a key part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s plans to impound reservoirs all over the state.

It’s not known if the action represents a permanent pulling of the plug on the 850-acre reservoir or just a temporary halt in the project.

As reported by Joshua Silavent in the Gainesville Times:

Factors in the decision for the temporary halt include new population estimates for the area that call for slower growth than some earlier projections, a statement from the Environmental Protection Division that the project is no longer needed for water supply, and the ongoing tri-state water wars between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Gainesville officials have already pulled their support for the project, but county officials have roundly disputed the lower population projections.

Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose district includes the Glades site, said he hoped to validate the project in the coming months.

“By no means are we pulling the permit” application entirely, he added.

The news was met with applause from environmental activists.

“Hall County simply cannot justify the need for this super expensive and highly engineered project for water supply when they have what they need already,” said Jason Ulseth, the lead river protection advocate and spokesman for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “Engineers, lawyers and consultants have been filling their pockets, and taxpayers have been footing the bills.”

Religious rally at capitol

Critics of Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of the “religious liberty” will hold a rally at Liberty Plaza, starting at 11 a.m. Friday. Speakers will include state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and several ministers.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report


Tags: burial mounds , Glades Reservoir , historic sites , Muscogee (Creek) Nation , religious liberty