Okefenokee Swamp protections restored thanks to years-long effort from Georgia advocates and Senator Jon Ossoff
Georgians everywhere can now rejoice that over 438,000 acres of Georgia’s treasured Okefenokee Swamp and surrounding wetlands are now protected.
The Okefenokee Swamp is the largest wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi. While nearly the entire Okefenokee Swamp was protected, along its eastern edge lies the Trail Ridge, an ancient dune that sustains the swamp and has been the target of multiple mining attempts. The Army Corps of Engineers announced restored protections for the Swamp on Friday, June 3rd, confirming they had reversed a prior decision that permitted strip mining around the Okefenokee Swamp.
The Army Corps of Engineers granted Sen. Jon Ossoff’s request, which the Senator has pursued for years, in response to thousands of Georgian’s calls to protect the swamp. You can read more about the senator’s efforts in the official press release.
Georgians fight to protect the swamp
This victory happened thanks to thousands of Georgians like you who took action to protect the swamp. A recent article by Defenders of Wildlife recently summed the efforts up:
- Over 100,000 comments have been submitted, with 60,000 sent to state regulators, a record for the state.
- Forty-five scientists jointly warned of the dangers of this project.
- Over 100 faith leaders called on the state of Georgia to protect the Okefenokee, “a uniquely holy and sacred space.”
- Two former cabinet members, including Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson; three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directors; and two commissioners of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, among others, expressed their opposition.
- Numerous counties and cities, including Ware County, Kingsland, St. Marys, Valdosta, and Waycross, have either expressed concerns with the project or their support for the Okefenokee.
- Chemours, a mining spinoff of DuPont, said it has no plans to buy the project. Another corporate giant, TIAA, said it would not support mining ventures on its property.
- Senator Ossoff, Senator Warnock, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have repeatedly expressed misgivings about the project, noting its potential to compromise the swamp permanently.
- And state legislators, republicans and democrats alike, introduced legislation in early 2022 prohibiting the future issuance of mining permits on the Trail Ridge.
The fight’s not over yet!
Learn more about the global ecological treasure that is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the heroic efforts to save it. Visit our partners at Georgia River Network to watch the “Okefenokee Destiny” film and find out what else you can do to help protect the swamp.
Twin Pines still has permits pending with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. You can encourage EPD to reject the project permits by emailing your comments to TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov.
You can also send a letter asking Gov. Brian Kemp for additional protections by texting SWAMP to 52886 or CLICK HERE to take action.
Finally, you can also help the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in its bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage site! Learn more and get involved here.