Stop Transfer of Camp Merrill to Department of Defense,

    1. Ron Fogaros
    2. Petition by

      Ron Fogaros

      Dahlonega, GA

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R. 1960) that passed in the House of Representatives on June 14th carried a last minute amendment (#291) introduced by Representative Doug Collins from the 9th District of Georgia. Amendment #291 transfers 282 acres of Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest land, the site of Army ranger training base Camp Frank D. Merrill, from the Department of Agriculture (Forest Service) to the Department of Defense. This parcel of land includes the headwaters of the Etowah River, and is surrounded by thousands of acres of Forest Service land. Camp Merrill has operated efficiently for the last 60 years under a lease agreement and memorandum of understanding between the Department of Defense and the Forest Service.

This amendment to the bill was inserted without discussing the pitfalls or merits with congress or with Rep. Doug Collins contingency. This action violates the spirit of democracy by not opening up discussions on important matters that directly affects the people that you represent.

Land transfers with the Department of Defense are already regulated by the “Interchange with Department of Defense Act of 1956”, which assures that the public’s interests and access are protected, the exchange of land is mutually beneficial, and the process is transparent. This mechanism not only ensures that the public is compensated for lost forest resources and public access, but allows citizens to have a voice in the process. Collin’s amendment bypasses this process and sets a dangerous precedent that could result in the loss of public land and access not just in Georgia, but nationwide. Moreover, if the transfer occurs and the Army determines they no longer need the land, it could potentially be sold to private developers rather than remain under the ownership of the Forest Service.

The Department of Defense possesses millions of acres of land across the United States, including over 476,000 acres in Fort Stewart and Fort Benning in Georgia alone. There is no need for this transfer, and it opens the door for other unilateral land transfers conducted with no review and no opportunity for public input.

Stop Transfer of Camp Merrill to Department of Defense,

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Linda Stahlberg DAHLONEGA, GA
      • 8 months ago

      I am a U.S. Army Ranger Engineer Officer's Widow. I have been associated with the Mountain Ranger Camp since 1968 and have seen it operate successfully as it now does in it's environment and proximity to Dahlonega. I cannot agree strongly enough with Paragraph 4 of this petition. I do not understand Rep. Collins actions and feel that he owes the people of our area an explanation of his last minute introduction of Amendment #291 in such a clandestine manner.

    • Barbara Seaton DAHLONEGA, GA
      • 8 months ago

      The current arrangement protects our forests, and works. There is no need to change it.

    • Lois Newton RISING FAWN, GA
      • 9 months ago

      This is an amazing recreation area in the state of Georgia and there has never been any issue having with it operating as it has been: Camp Merrill has operated efficiently for the last 60 years under a lease agreement and memorandum of understanding between the Department of Defense and the Forest Service.

    • Sadie Morgan ROSSVILLE, GA
      • 9 months ago

      I lived near this Camp and there is no way it should be under sole control of the DOD. This is a bad precedent for all our public lands!

    • Wayne Jenkins HOMER, AK
      • 9 months ago

      The lack of any public process for this transferal is an appalling breach of our democratic process, USFS rules under NEPA and a grave oversight by Rep. Collins of the 9th District of GA. National Forests belong to all the people and before such sweeping legislation can be passed a process for defining the need and other alternatives is the law. Rep. Collins lack of understanding of the laws of the land he serves and its citizens and his attempt to bypass due process for his constituents and US citizens is either a grave mistake on his part, sheer ignorance or perhaps both. I would question his fitness to serve the citizens of the 9th District.


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