Washington, DC

After six years of guarding its namesake wetlands, the Okefenokee Protection Alliance has been named 2024’s Refuge Advocate of the Year by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Through the alliance, more than 40 organizations have combined resources and efforts to protect the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from the threat of industrial mining. Defenders of Wildlife celebrates today’s news as a founding member of the alliance.

“Over the last six years, our partners have shared one goal: Safeguarding the refuge and the wildlife that call it home,” said Christian Hunt, senior policy analyst at Defenders of Wildlife. “Overwhelming opposition to the mine makes it clear that we’re not alone. We are grateful for the recognition, as well as the energy and passion the public has devoted to shielding the refuge.”

Alligator moving through the grass to water - Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge - Georgia
Running Wild Media

Since its inception, the alliance has generated public support against the creation of a titanium strip mine adjacent to the refuge, which would threaten to upend the water table of the largest blackwater wetland in the U.S. The alliance has worked closely with lawmakers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the public to secure permanent protections from proposed mining. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Senator Jon Ossoff, and leaders from past administrations have all opposed mining operations proposed by Twin Pines Minerals, an Alabama-based mining company. Most recently, FWS asserted its reserved water rights in a letter to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division in defense of the refuge.  

The state of Georgia is currently deliberating over whether to issue final permits to Twin Pines Minerals. Comments on the draft permits can be sent to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division at TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov.  

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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Senior Federal Lands Policy Analyst


Blackfeet Nation Birch Creek - hay bails in foreground
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2010.12.27 - Florida Manatee - Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge - Florida - Keith Ramos - USFWS
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