The future of Okefenokee Swamp is at risk. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, a mining company based in Alabama, is seeking permission to operate a heavy mineral sand mine adjacent to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Twin Pines’ mine is sited dangerously close to the refuge and could permanently alter the swamp.
Visited by 600,000 people annually
The swamp, designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937, is located in Southeast Georgia and visited by 600,000 people annually.
What Is at Stake?
Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, comprised of about 440,000 acres, and is considered one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems. The swamp, designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937, is located in Southeast Georgia and visited by 600,000 people annually.
The Okefenokee swamp is a unique wetland system made up of peet beds, island prairies, open lakes, creek channels, and cypress forests. It creates an ideal home for wildlife. Wading birds, songbirds, toads, turtles, frogs, and black bears all make their home in Okefenokee, but the most abundant and visible resident are the healthy population of American alligators.
An ancient coastline running parallel to our coast, called Trail Ridge, serves as the natural eastern boundary and barrier that keeps water in the swamp. Trail Ridge provides unique habitats and corridors for important species like gopher tortoises and served as a natural trail for Native Americans and early coastal settlers.
Twin Pines’ Ill-conceived Proposal
Twin Pines’ immediate plans are to mine along Trail Ridge, recklessly affecting over 500 acres of wetlands within a 2,400-acre site, and eventually mining 10,000 more acres. They propose to excavate deep soils (up to 50 feet below the surface), significantly changing geologic formations created over centuries and impacting the flow of water in and around the swamp. Such major alterations likely cannot be reversed, repaired, or mitigated. We cannot risk damaging our beloved Okefenokee for reckless mining.
Largest Blackwater Swamp in N. America
Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, comprised of about 440,000 acres, and is considered one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.
History Repeats Itself
Trail Ridge is known for its abundant mineral deposits. As such, mining near the Okefenokee has been proposed in the past. In 1997, DuPont Company was to begin mining a 23,000-acre plot of land adjacent to the swamp. Over three years of extensive public outcry and governmental opposition, resulted in DuPont abandoning their mineral rights in that area and donating most of the property to The Conservation Fund for permanent protection. The greatest concerns for the mining proposal in the 1990s was the impact the operations would have on the hydrology of the swamp and the habitats it supports.
What You Can Do
- Submit public comments. Twin Pines has submitted an application for a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for permission to execute their plan. The public can submit comments on the current plan until September 12th to dissuade the Corps from issuing the permits.
- Email a pre-written comment letter or
- Draft your own comment letter. Send them via email to [email protected] or mail them via U.S. Postal Service to Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia, 31707.
- In all comments, please refer to the applicant’s nam : Twin Pines Minerals and the application number SAS-2018-00554.
- Attend a public meeting to learn more and ask questions. In August, Twin Pines is hosting two public meetings to discuss their proposal and answer questions from the public. This is a great opportunity to meet the Twin Pines representatives, express your concerns, and get more information.
- Folkston public meeting by Twin Pines: Tues. August 13, 2019, 5:30 to 8:30pm – at the Folkston Auditorium, 68 Kingsland Dr., Folkston, GA 31537.
- St. George Public meeting by Twin Pines: Weds. August 14, 2019, 5:30 to 8:30 at Fire Station Number 2, 13063 Florida Ave., St. George, GA 31562.
- Promote the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative. The Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative was initiated in 2017 as a collaborative designed to permanently protect 100,000 acres of the habitats upon which the species depends.