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  • Writer's pictureMermaid Cruiser

Protecting Our Wetlands and Rivers- The Okefenokee Protection Alliance

The Okefenokee Protection Alliance is a group of more than 40 organizations (including the Georgia River Network headquartered in Athens, GA) leading the effort to save the largest black water network in the US. This network includes a 440,000-acre ecosystem and 2 rivers (Okefenokee River and St. Mary’s River). The St. Mary’s River flows southeast from the swamp and enters the Atlantic Ocean between Amelia Island, Florida and Cumberland Island, Georgia. The swamp attracts over 700,000 visitors per year and contributes heavily to the local economy with tourism dollars.

For years, the Okefenokee Protection Alliance has been fighting a mining company, Twin Pines, which has requested permits to mine titanium dioxide used for toothpaste from 8,000 acres adjacent to the swamp. The attempts to mine heavy metals from this region go back years. In the 90’s, Dupont attempted to mine in the region next to the swamp; however, public outcry and the then Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, put a halt to the operation.

Beginning in 2019, Twin Pines began submitting requests for mining permits that have been met with opposition. In response, the company has reduced the acreage requested on the permit, but their intent is still to mine approximately 8,000 acres adjacent to the swamp.

The impact to the environment, both the wetlands and rivers, but also downstream ecosystems all the way to the Atlantic Ocean is devasting. Mining in this area would involve digging 50-foot-deep pits next to the Okefenokee, which, when coupled with groundwater withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer, could alter the hydrology of the area and impair the movement and storage of water within the swamp. Such impacts to the landscape can already be seen at a separate Twin Pines mining location further south in Florida. Lower water levels could also destroy habitats; lead to an increased risk of uncontrollable wildfires; and impair the health and flow of both the St. Mary’s and Suwannee Rivers, which would compromise boat access to the swamp for fishing, birding, and photography, as well as hunting outside the refuge.


Mining next to the Okefenokee is a classic case of corporate greed at the expense of the environment. Titanium is a common mineral that is readily available elsewhere. Though titanium is used in everything from surgical tools to military equipment, mineral commodity it is expected that the minerals mined near the Okefenokee Swamp will be used primarily as a pigment for coloring things white like paint, plastic and even toothpaste.

For more information and to find out how you can help prevent mining and protect the land adjacent to the swamp, please visit the following websites using the links provided below:

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