Feds Fail to Protect Swamp; Now It's Up to You

Okefenokee Swamp |  Photo by Jay Blanton

The Okefenokee Swamp, one of Georgia's seven natural wonders, the largest blackwater swamp in North America, and a wetland of international importance, is threatened by a proposed titanium mine. That threat recently became more pronounced when the federal government changed rules in the Clean Water Act that allows Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, an Alabama mining company with a poor track record of environmental stewardship, to proceed with its 600-acre heavy mineral sand mine without any federal oversight. Now only the State of Georgia can ensure that the Okefenokee will not be harmed by this and other mines that might follow.

The proposed mine sits next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Charlton County. The company proposes digging 50-foot deep trenches in Trail Ridge, the very rise of land that helps regulate water levels in the swamp. These excavations would extend below the water table of the swamp and could alter water levels in the swamp.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has written that, "should impacts occur, they may not be able to be reversed, repaired or mitigated for." At risk is one of the last self-contained, naturally functioning wetlands left on Earth. Among the most visited National Wildlife Refuges in the country, the Okefenokee hosts some 600,000 people annually who help create more than 750 local jobs and a total annual economic output of $64.7 million in the four counties surrounding the swamp. With the federal agencies abandoning science and public input, we now must depend on Georgia's leaders to do the right thing.

Please join us in asking Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to save the swamp from this dangerous proposal and encourage him to request a study to determine how the Okefenokee Swamp could be impacted by mining along Trail Ridge.

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