published Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Move to give Army forest land in North Georgia draws controversy

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The rumble of Humvees and the buzz of choppers are already commonplace to the neighbors of Camp Merrill, an elite Army base in the rolling hills north of Dahlonega. Some worry they’re about to become a lot more frequent if a north Georgia lawmaker’s late legislative push succeeds.

The Army wants to take over a 282-acre swath of land that it leases from the Forest Service to train Army Rangers. After two decades of negotiations didn’t yield a deal, Gainesville Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins stepped in with an amendment to a defense bill that gives the Army the land.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that environmental groups worry that an expanded military presence could threaten pristine forestland, pollute churning streams and restrict access to hiking, biking and horseback riding.

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