“We are shocked and profoundly disappointed by the Corps’ decision to reverse itself and support big development over science and meaningful tribal consultation. The swamp is too important to have its fate decided without federal oversight and Defenders of Wildlife is exploring additional legal actions in the fight to protect these wetlands that play an integral role in the health of the Okefenokee.”

Christian Hunt, Southeast Program Representative
Savannah, Ga.

In response to the announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers that they settled a lawsuit filed by the mining company, Twin Pines Minerals, Christian Hunt, Southeast Program Representative at Defenders of Wildlife issued the following statement:  

“We are shocked and profoundly disappointed by the Corps’ decision to reverse itself and support big development over science and meaningful tribal consultation. The swamp is too important to have its fate decided without federal oversight and Defenders of Wildlife is exploring additional legal actions in the fight to protect these wetlands that play an integral role in the health of the Okefenokee.” 

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Ibis along canal run Okefenokee
Steve Brooks

Background:  

  • The Okefenokee Swamp is a vital natural resource in Georgia and the Southeastern U.S. At roughly half a million acres, the Okefenokee is one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in the world and home to various threatened and endangered species. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is under active consideration to be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination. 
  • On June 3, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it vacated the jurisdictional determination for a mining project threatening the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia.  
  • On August 22, the Corps reversed its decision based on the conclusion that it had not fully consulted with or considered the wetland’s cultural and historical significance to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 
  • The June announcement dealt a major blow to Twin Pines Minerals, an Alabama-based mining company that sought approval for a nearly 8,000-acre titanium dioxide strip mine along Trail Ridge, a natural barrier that contains the Okefenokee Swamp. The proposed the strip mine would have required the company to restart the federal approval process.  
  • This strip mine would destroy the unique soil profile and the pumping of groundwater from the swamp’s edge could fatally undermine the Okefenokee’s ability to sustain itself.   
  • The proposal provoked a significant outcry. In 2021, a bipartisan group of Georgia and former federal officials signed an open letter criticizing the project in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Earlier this year, Georgia state legislators introduced House Bill 1289, which would ban future mining along the Trail Ridge. In all, over 100,000 people have signed comments at the state and federal level urging the government to save the Okefenokee.  

For over 75 years, Defenders of Wildlife has remained dedicated to protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come. To learn more, please visit https://defenders.org/newsroom or follow us on X @Defenders.

  

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