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 Dec. 4, 2020

Twin Pines Minerals has now submitted applications to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for five necessary permits to begin mining operations. Those applications are currently under review by state environmental regulators. Permits that must be secured include a surface mining permit, groundwater withdrawal permit, industrial stormwater discharge permit, wastewater discharge permit and air permit.

In October, 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 600 acres of land on Trail Ridge adjacent to the swamp.

The federal rule change removed from protection nearly 400 acres of wetlands at the mining site, and eliminated the need for Twin Pines to secure federal environmental permits for its project. The federal permitting process would have required federal agencies to conduct rigorous environmental reviews before permitting the mine. 

With federal oversight removed, 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 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. We further request that, due to the lack of federal oversight and public comment requirements, EPD hold a series of hearings and public comment periods so that citizens can provide input on the proposal.

Water Trails

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.