An Ecosystem in Jeopardy
Among the concerns of mining so close to the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River is that hydrologic and water quality changes will damage the Okefenokee, as well as the St. Marys River that flows from its beautiful, placid waters. The Okefenokee is entirely rain-fed and relies on the structural function of Trail Ridge to maintain water levels. Unfortunately, Twin Pines’ models use minimal data to estimate the impacts and safety of their operations. They also fail to provide adequate information about how water will be managed and the impact withdrawals will have on the Floridan aquifer and the St. Marys River.
We’re working to save the swamp.
After Twin Pines first submitted its application to mine 12,000 acres, more than 20,000 public comments were received on the proposal, and it became apparent that an environmental impact statement (EIS) would be required. Twin Pines then withdrew its first application in January 2020 and in March 2020, resubmitted an application for a “demonstration mining project” (spanning almost 900 acres), in the hopes of avoiding an EIS as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Unfortunately, rollbacks to the Clean Water Act in June 2020 eliminated the need for the project to be permitted by the Federal Government. This leaves GA EPD responsible for issuing the permits necessary for Twin Pines to mine Trail Ridge.
One Hundred Miles is one of the 40 organizations from around the Southeast and the country that have come together to form the Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA). Together, these groups are monitoring the process and working to engage the public to ensure the swamp is protected.
Member groups of OPA and citizens around the world submitted roughly 60,000 comments to the Corps about their heavy mineral sand mine proposals. While the public comment period has expired, OPA and OHM continue to engage experts in evaluating Twin Pines’ proposal, share information with elected officials, and educate community members on the issue.
You can help.
The GA EPD has announced they will take public comments now, and a formal comment period will commence at a later date. OHM stands firm on our recommendation that the permit to mine 898 acres be denied. If the permit is not denied, Twin Pines is likely to continue applying for permits to mine more property beyond this demonstration site.
OHM will share more information and opportunities to make your voice heard as future decisions are made. Until then, take action via the buttons below to email GA EPD and Governor Kemp.
The largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi
The Okefenokee Swamp covers 440,000 acres. That’s more than three times the total land mass of all Georgia’s barrier islands! It includes 370,000 acres of freshwater wetlands—an area larger than all of Georgia’s tidal salt marshes—and 353,981 acres of wilderness area, more than half the size of the Smoky Mountain National Park.
An Evolving Ecosystem
One million years ago, when sea levels were much higher than today, Trail Ridge was a barrier island. This geological feature allowed for freshwater to accumulate in what is now the Okefenokee Swamp. The swamp as we know it today began forming five to seven thousand years ago when the peat moss first established in the area.
An Ecological—and Economic—Driver for our Region
The Okefenokee Swamp supports more than 750 local jobs in Charlton County and Southeast Georgia. Approximately 600,000 annual visitors come from all 50 states and ~35 countries.
A Wonder of the World
In addition to its status as a National Wildlife Refuge and a Wetland of International Importance, the Okefenokee is on the “tentative list” of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites.
VP, Coastal Conservation
“The Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is an irreplaceable piece of Georgia’s history and a world-renowned ecosystem. Join us in speaking out to protect it.”
Contact Alice for more information about our efforts to protect the Okefenokee.