The Okefenokee Swamp is in trouble—again. Yes, we’ve seen this story before: unscrupulous, out-of-state corporate interests want to risk permanent harm to the swamp so they can make nonessential products.
Twin Pines Minerals wants to:
- Install a 740-acre heavy mineral sand mine on the Trail Ridge. That ridge acts as a critical retaining wall for the swamp.
- Pump 1.4 million gallons of water per day from the Floridan Aquifer directly below the Okefenokee.
- Discharge industrial wastewater within walking distance of the swamp.
- Take zero responsibility for the damage that could be done.
Consequences will include:
- A drawdown of the aquifer causing as much as a 9-foot drop in the water level.
- The discharge of wastewater into the St. Marys River Basin.
- The release of air and light pollution into Georgia’s only International Dark Sky Park.
- A potential puncturing of the swamp’s delicate water table.
The last time a mining company threatened the Okefenokee Swamp, public outrage forced Georgia leadership to stand up to the corporation, and the proposed operation was abandoned.
This time around, tens of thousands of letters and comments have poured into the Georgia Environmental Protection Division from around the world in support of the Okefenokee Swamp. Hundreds of environmental organizations have thrown their resources behind this cause. But the protections for this area under federal law are murky, so it’s up to Georgians to protect one of our greatest treasures.
In May, we called Governor Kemp to tell him that the Okefenokee Swamp is not for sale.
And, we’ve been ramping up the pressure on the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny Twin Pines’ permit to mine. But that’s not enough. We need to make certain this will not keep happening, so we’re urging legislation to ensure that the Okefenokee will be protected for all future generations. The cities of Homeland, Kingsland, St Marys, Valdosta, and Waycross have already passed local resolutions demanding Georgia officials do whatever it takes to protect the Okefenokee.
The 635-square-mile Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.
The Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, and one of the planet’s largest remaining intact freshwater ecosystems. It’s home to a reported 233 species of birds, 49 species of mammals, 64 species of reptiles, 37 species of amphibians, and 39 species of fish. It is also a key economic driver in both Georgia and northeast Florida, is visited by almost 400,000 people, and contributes more than $64 million to local economies every year!
But the Okefenokee Swamp can’t protect itself.
We need to put a law on the books that will.