The Okefenokee Protection Alliance, a coalition of more than 40 organizations, has coalesced to save the Okefenokee Swamp. This resource page provides descriptions of problems with Twin Pines Minerals LLC’s proposed plan to mine Trail Ridge; hydrological models examining what could happen to the swamp during mining; and maps about recreational water trails in the swamp and on the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.
Twin Pines Minerals LLC Mining Proposal Update as of January 2022
Twin Pines Minerals has now submitted applications to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for necessary permits to begin mining operations. Those applications are currently under review by state environmental regulators.
In October 2020, following implementation of new federal rules associated with the Clean Water Act, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC announced that it was moving forward with a plan to begin mining land on Trail Ridge, adjacent to the Refuge.
The federal rule change removed from protection hundreds of acres of wetlands at the mining site, and Twin Pines no longer sought federal environmental permits for its project. The federal permitting process would have required federal agencies to conduct rigorous environmental reviews before permitting the mine. Now, the fate of the project rests in the hands of Georgia’s EPD and state leaders.
The Okefenokee Protection Alliance is monitoring the permitting process closely. We strongly encourage all citizens and state leaders to urge EPD to conduct a study of its own with a thorough analysis of the cumulative impacts of the mining of tracts near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, including the effects on the refuge’s air and water quality, and the consequences of sustained groundwater withdrawals.
EPD has stated that Twin Pines’ application is currently under review and that there will be additional public comment periods. The Okefenokee Protection Alliance strongly urges all citizens to submit comments on the mining proposal once EPD announces they have opened the 60-day comment period.
Washington Post Article – Trump Rule Eases Effort To Strip Mine Near Okefenokee.
The refuge is part of the National Water Trail System, one of only 21 designated trails in the U.S., in part because it requires an act of Congress. The Okefenokee and the Suwannee River both have water trails. The St. Mary’s trail is under development. To learn more about Georgia Water Trails, click here.