Honey Springs, Blue River suddenly on federal radar
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Saturday, November 05, 2011
11/05/11 at 8:49 AM
WASHINGTON - A key Oklahoma official on Friday welcomed a federal report highlighting the possibility the state's Honey Springs Civil War site could be designated a national battlefield park.
Kathy Dickson, director of museums and historic sites for the Oklahoma Historical Society, said such a designation would give the largest Civil War battle site in Indian Territory the national recognition it deserves.
Dickson said her agency has been working toward that goal for some time now.
Two projects from each state were included in the report, which is a part of a President Barack Obama initiative called America's Great Outdoors.
The report released by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also highlighted the potential designation of the Blue River as a National Blueway.
The Blue River is one of Oklahoma's few remaining free-flowing rivers.
Still, the decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to include that potential designation for Honey Springs in its 50-state report was an unexpected development.
And the significance of the report, which described the "potential action" as "support designation of Honey Springs as a National Battlefield Park," remained unclear.
Calls to an Interior Department spokesman seeking clarification were not returned.
"I think it would be fair to say at this point that we are uncertain exactly what that means," Dickson said when asked about the report's language.
Several months ago, the agency resubmitted an application to have the Honey Springs site designated a national historic landmark.
In addition to being the largest engagement of the Civil War in Indian Territory, Honey Springs is viewed as historically important because it involved Indian, black and white soldiers.
Roughly 1,200 acres owned by the state agency currently make up the Honey Springs Battlefield Park.
"We have listened to the American people and their elected representatives about the most important things we can do to conserve our land and water and reconnect people, especially young people, to the outdoors," Salazar said in a written statement.
"These projects represent what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the nation."
Original Print Headline: Honey Springs gets national park consideration
Jim Myers 202-484-1424