STATEMENT OF JEFFREY TAYLOR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, RECREATION, AND PUBLIC LANDS, OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES, CONCERNING H.R. 1113, TO AUTHORIZE AN EXCHANGE OF LAND AT FORT FREDERICA NATIONAL MONUMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department’s views on H.R. 1113. This bill would authorize an exchange of land at Fort Frederica National Monument.
The Department supports an exchange of land between Christ Church Frederica and Fort Frederica National Monument, as outlined in H.R. 1113, in accordance with this testimony. Although appraisals have not been completed for the two parcels, we expect that the value of the land received by the National Park Service (NPS) will be more than the value of the land given up so there will be no need for land acquisition funding. The NPS would incur increased operational costs associated with the exchange because of the archeological value to the park of the acquired lands. However, the amount of those costs cannot be determined until the significance of the resources present on the site NPS acquires is established. We also suggest a technical amendment to provide the identification information required for the map referenced in the bill.
H.R. 1113 would authorize the Secretary to convey to Christ Church of St. Simons Island, Georgia approximately 4.8 acres of land within the boundary of Fort Frederica National Monument in exchange for approximately 8.7 acres of land near Fort Frederica that will be acquired by Christ Church. Upon completion of the exchange, the Secretary shall revise the boundary of Fort Frederica National Monument and administer the land acquired through the exchange as part of the monument.
Fort Frederica National Monument is located 12 miles northeast of Brunswick on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The monument’s authorized boundary contains 250 acres and preserves the remains of a fortified town established and laid out by Governor James Oglethorpe in 1736 to defend against invasion from Spanish colonies in Florida.
Fort Frederica was one of the earliest English settlements in what ultimately became the State of Georgia, preceded by Fort King George (1721), located near Darien, Georgia, and the Cities of Savannah (1733) and Augusta (1735), also established and planned by Oglethorpe. Fort Frederica was a prosperous community of substantial homes whose residents were tradesmen and farmers supplying the garrison stationed there much the same way communities provide goods and services to military installations today. In 1739, Britain and Spain entered a war that eventually involved Fort Frederica. After the 1748 treaty, Frederica’s military garrison was withdrawn and the town of Fort Frederica fell into decline. In 1758, a fire destroyed most of the existing structures.
Fort Frederica National Monument was established on May 26, 1936. Subsequent legislation increased the authorized boundary to 250 acres and directed the Secretary of the Interior to acquire the Battle of Bloody Marsh memorial site on St. Simons Island. Subject to the 250-acre limitation, the Secretary was also authorized to acquire additional marshland acreage west of the Frederica River, across from the National Monument, for additional protection of the historic scene.
On June 29, 1993, following a lengthy campaign involving the efforts and support of the Trust for Public Land and many private citizens of St. Simons Island, Fort Frederica acquired 28 acres of land, including river frontage on the south side of the town site, that had been planned for a major marina development. This acquisition preserved the historic view of the river approach to Fort Frederica. The 4.8-acre parcel that H.R. 1113 directs the Secretary to give to Christ Church is within this 28-acre acquisition.
The 8.7-acre site that Christ Church proposes to exchange for the land at Fort Frederica contains archeological remains that have been established to be from the colonial period. Tradition indicates that the land includes General Ogelthorpe’s home, however we are unaware of any archeological survey work that has been completed on this tract to positively determine if this is the case.
The main town site within the National Monument contains several well-preserved and partially reconstructed colonial ruins. There may be additional administrative and operational costs associated with protecting a small archeological site detached from the main park unit and it has not been determined if that cost is commensurate with the limited additional interpretive value of the site if it only contains additional Frederica era resources but does not include Oglethorpe’s home.
We understand that Representative Kingston may amend H.R. 1113 to adjust the acreage figures of the land subject to the exchange. We have prepared a land exchange map based on the language currently in the bill and the existing surveys of the two properties proposed for exchange. We would be happy to prepare a new map, but want to work closely with Mr. Kingston in order to assure that the National Monument’s artifact storage facility and other buildings remain within the current boundary of Fort Frederica and that the historic scene is protected. It also would be important to ensure that the value of the lands exchanged does not require land acquisition funding.
Our technical amendment to provide the map number, title, and date is attached to this testimony.
That completes my testimony. I would be happy to answer any questions
that you or any members of the subcommittee may have.
Proposed Amendment; H.R. 1113
On page 1, line 9, strike out everything starting with “Church and” through the end of subsection (a) and replace it with the following:
“Church and depicted as “NPS Lands for Exchange” on the map entitled “Fort Frederica National Monument 2003 Boundary Revision”, numbered 369/80016, and dated March 2003, in exchange for the approximately 8.7 acres of land to be acquired by Christ Church, which is depicted as “Private Lands for Addition” on the same map.”