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TNC Welcomes Federal Decision on Mine Threatening the Okefenokee

The Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia is North America’s largest intact freshwater wetlands.

Water-level view of an abundance of bright green wetland plants with a forest of tall, thin cypress trees in the background.
Okefenokee swamp Lily pads and cypress trees are among the many plant species that thrive in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. © TimothyJ/Creative Commons

The Nature Conservancy welcomed the June 3 announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reversing its earlier decision to allow a mining operation to move forward on the edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia is North America’s largest intact freshwater wetlands. Its diverse habitats support a multitude of species, and few other areas can match its variety and abundance of wildlife. This unique landscape was threatened by a proposed titanium mine planned by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC that could cause irreparable damage to the geological barrier that forms the swamp’s eastern border, endangering the integrity of the swamp’s complex water system. 

A large white heron stalks prey in the wetland waters of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Prime habitat The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge provides valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife species. © David Wilson/Creative Commons

The Nature Conservancy opposed the mine, and more than 700 of the organization’s supporters urged officials to deny permission for the mining operation. These actions were complemented by a wide range of organizations and individuals concerned about the potential harm the mine could cause to the Okefenokee. Georgia’s U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock played valuable roles in raising concern about the proposed mine.

In reversing its earlier determination, the Army Corps of Engineers noted the federal government’s failure to consult with the Muscogee Creek Nation about the proposed Okefenokee mine, which violated its protocol for consulting with Tribal nations. The Nature Conservancy applauds the Army Corps for recognizing and addressing this failure to consult with the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Twin Pines Minerals LLC has indicated that it plans to resubmit applications to the Army Corps of Engineers for its proposed mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.  The Nature Conservancy will continue to monitor the situation and will take appropriate action to protect the integrity of the irreplaceable Okefenokee Swamp.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.