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, scientists worry that mining in this area of Trail Ridge will impact water quality and water levels in the swamp, increase fire in the swamp and surrounding farms and forests, destroy habitat, and impact tourism to the National Refuge. Twin Pines has failed to provide adequate models and information for how waste 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 wild heart of Georgia.
Twin Pines’ mining proposal has changed many times since the operation was first presented in 2018. The company has recently applied for permits for the first phase of what will eventually be an 8,000-acre mine to extract titanium and other heavy minerals from the sandy soil of Trail Ridge.
In June 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the agency was rescinding a previous determination that the mine site did not have wetlands protected by federal law. This announcement requires the company to reapply for federal permission to operate a sand mine. Twin Pines responded to this determination with a lawsuit claiming that tribal considerations are not relevant to this case and that the Corps was unfairly singling out the company.
Additionally, local concerns are growing. In addition to the more than 100,000 comments submitted to agencies responsible for permitting the Twin Pines mine, the cities of Valdosta, St. Marys, Kingsland, Homeland, and Waycross/Ware County passed resolutions asking for protection for the Okefenokee Swamp and the citizens they represent. Faith leaders have also expressed concern for the impact of Twin Pines’ mine and encouraged Charlton County Commissioners to not allow the swamp to be desecrated by the project.
You Can Help
OHM stands firm on our recommendation that any permits for mining activities along Trail Ridge near the Okefenokee be denied.
Regardless of what comes of the Twin Pines lawsuit, we will continue to pursue greater state and local protections right here in Georgia. We support the designation of the Okefenokee Refuge as a World Heritage Site. At the State Capitol, we are urging our elected representatives to pass legislation establishing long-term protections for Trail Ridge. We are also working with local partners to identify and pursue sustainable economic development opportunities across our region. This two-pronged strategy will ensure that Georgians will have used our power to protect the swamp from future threats, while also providing opportunities to surrounding rural communities.
Today, we are urging all Georgians to contact Governor Brian Kemp asking that he support legislation that he do all in his power to protect the Okefenokee Swamp.
Okefenokee in the News
Savannah Morning News | 7/91/22
The Current | 6/10/22
WABE | 6/6/22
AJC | 6/3/22
WABE | 2/9/22
The Current | 2/4/22
Bloomberg Law | 1/24/22
Savannah Morning News | 1/7/22
AJC | 11/20/21
The Current | 10/22/21
Brunswick News | 10/12/21
Georgia Recorder | 9/27/21
The Current | 9/1/21
Defenders of Wildlife | 8/27/21
Saporta Report | 7/11/21
U.S. News | 6/10/21
AP | 6/7/21
AJC | 7/14/20
Savannah Morning News | 5/14/20
The Brunswick News | 1/30/20
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.