Harris Neck Summary – page 2
• 2007: Environmental and Cultural Site Assessments of Harris Neck are completed.
• 2007: Community Development Plan is developed and adopted by the Trust.
• 2007: Meetings with key members of Congress begin.
• 2008: Legislation to effect the return of Harris Neck is written.
• 2009: Sponsorship of the Bill (Harris Neck Recovery Act) is being worked out.
• 2010 (spring): National media campaign is launched
• 2010: Discussions continue with key members of Congress.
• 2011 (spring): A Mock Hearing to prepare for the actual hearing before the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources is sponsored by and held at Emory University in Atlanta.
• 2011 (December): Oversight hearing is held by the Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, the committee that has jurisdiction over USFWS. The next step is the introduction of legislation.
• 2012 (March): The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission passes a resolution in support of the Harris Neck Land Trust’s efforts to reclaim the land for its rightful owners.
• 2012 (March): Holland & Knight, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in America, signs a letter of agreement with the Trust and joins its efforts (Pro Bono) to reclaim the land.
• 2013 (Spring): Confronted by the realities of a dysfunctional Congress, the Trust, with the advice of Holland & Knight and Congressman Jack Kingston, decides to change strategies. Instead of pursuing title to all 2,687 acres of Harris Neck, it is decided that a long-term, renewable lease of a small portion of the Harris Neck Refuge will better serve the Trust’s mission and objectives.
• 2013 (May): The Trust and several officials from USFWS and Interior meet in the Atlanta offices of Holland & Knight to discuss the proposal of a long-term lease.
• 2013 (Summer): A follow-up meeting to the May meeting is held, with many of the same people in attendance, in Harris Neck.
• 2014 (June): Members of the Trust and an attorney from Holland & Knight meet with Sally Jewell, Secretary of Interior, in Harris Neck to brief her on the history of Harris Neck, this movement for justice, and the lease that the Trust is now requesting. Ms. Jewell asks the Trust to develop a Site Plan, indicating what the people want the new Harris Neck community to look like.
• 2015 (Febuary 2): The Trust submits a Special Use Permit Application and a Preliminary Site Plan to the Secretary of Interior and USFWS. The application requests a long-term, renewable lease to the extreme eastern portion of the Refuge. The Site Plan depicts and describes the cultural, residential and commercial components of the proposed new community.
• 2015 (February): The first meeting between the Trust and its attorneys and the Director of USFWS and the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of the Interior to discuss the lease and the Site Plan will be held in Washington, DC.
2015 (February 26) The Trust's Board Chair, Executive Director, and one of Holland & Knight's
attorneys met in DC with the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Secretary of the Interior, the Director of USFWS and a Deputy Director to discuss the permit application and the preliminary site plan.
2016 (May 2): Members of the Trust and Holland & Knight attorneys met in DC with Fish & Wildlife Director Dan Ashe to discuss two paths forward to achieve an equitable solution for Harris Neck, ideas that were raised at the Feb. 26, 2015 meeting.
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Harris Neck Land Trust
PO Box 42, Townsend, GA 31331 • (912)832-3931