Feb 18, 2022 - Food and Drink

A bipartisan plan to protect the Okefenokee Swamp

The Okefenokee Swamp
Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is trying to protect an area near the Okefenokee Swamp from mining.

  • This comes as an Alabama company, Twin Pines, has applied for state permits to do just that.

What’s happening: The bill would prevent state regulators from issuing new mining permits for a nearby part of Trail Ridge, an ancient coastline in the southeast that is home to valuable minerals.

Why it matters: Some environmental experts have warned that mining the ridge too close to the Okefenokee Swamp could harm the National Wildlife Refuge’s water levels and quality.

  • It’s one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world, covering nearly 450,000 acres.

State of play: While the bill would only apply to permit applications submitted after July 2022, thereby grandfathering in Twin Pines’ application, it would prevent expansion and other projects.

Flashback: This fight evokes another one, two decades ago, when environmentalists quashed a massive mining proposal near the swamp.

What they’re saying: Megan Desrosiers, president of the environmental group One Hundred Miles, said this would amount to the biggest legislative protection of a Georgia natural resource since the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act of 1970.

  • President of Twin Pines Steve Ingle told WABE News that the company is “proceeding with our plans and will abide by the environmental regulations that are actually on the books and applicable to our project as we have done from Day 1.”
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