Mounds site gets green light for activities, trails 7/24/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 24, 2015

Mounds site gets green light for activities, trails

By John Howell
Activity could soon increase at the Batesville Mounds site on Highway 35 North with campers, explorers and city workers clearing brush and undergrowth to increase visibility.

Batesville city and Scout leaders on Tuesday heard Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) Chief Archeologist Pam Lieb give the green light for activities at the 93-acre Mounds site on Highway 35 North.

Lieb, MDAH archeologist Susan Olin and University of Mississippi archeology professor Jay Johnson attended Tuesday’s meeting at the invitation of the board of mayor and aldermen. City officials, since assuming ownership of the site at the first of the year, have been reluctant to grant permission for its use until hearing from MDAH.

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Lieb’s main guideline for visiting the property: Don’t dig.

And even that restriction only applies to certain areas.

“All you have to do is let us see where it’s going to go to make sure you don’t hit anything,” Lieb said after Batesville scoutmasters Jim Whitten and Billy Broome asked about opening walking trails and clearing paths through the site.

Whitten, Broome, other Scout leaders and parents hosted a weekend of camping on the site last fall and have waited since the city assumed ownership to get permission for camping and other projects.

The Batesville Scout leaders said that there are presently a number of Life Scouts who are planning community service projects as part of requirements to advance to the rank of Eagle.
“This is going to be the most visited site in the state,” Lieb said, repeating a prediction, offered during an earlier visit to the site, about  tourist interest that will develop in the Mississippi Mounds Trail.

The Mounds Trail project identifies significant sites where mound-building Native Americans established villages. The Batesville Mounds site is believed to have been occupied by Native Americans who built villages on the banks of the Tallahatchie River for 800 to 1,000 years, starting as far back as 400 B.C.

The Mounds Trail project is under development by the MDAH, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the National Highway Administration.

MDOT has partially completed a pull-off from Highway 35 that allows vehicles to leave the roadway while observing the Great Mound. A Mounds Trail marker describing the significance of the site is being prepared and should be located at the site within three months, Lieb said.