If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis 2024-04-23

There is one slight catch: buying the land will be very expensive. There is probably only one organization that can afford it.

Although the lawsuits likely to ensue as soon as the permits are issued may reduce the price.

Nonetheless, merely buying the land would encourage more mining permit applications. There needs to be legislation to prohibit such mines anywhere near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Also, I don’t know what questioning he is referring to.

Dwight Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 23, 2024, If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land,

The mining permit for Trail Ridge near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has evolved into a contentious debate. Though initially a civil discourse on ecological preservation, recent opposition has taken a harsh tone, unfairly questioning the integrity of state officials involved in the decision-making process. Amid this, crucial facts have been overlooked.

[If you can't beat the mines, buy the land --Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR]
If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR

Having served on the board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 14 years, including as its past chairman, I’ve engaged with various stakeholders, including environmental groups, local elected officials and the mining company, Twin Pines, that is seeking permits to mine for minerals near the treasured Okefenokee swamp. Despite the board having no direct influence over the permit decision, we closely monitored the process.

Opponents of mining proudly claim they want to save the Okefenokee, but so does the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which is tasked with assessing the permit.

The EPD, an autonomous division of the Department of Natural Resources, consists of experts in air, land and watershed protection. Its sole responsibility is evaluating permit requests in compliance with stringent regulations, devoid of political influence.

The EPD staff, passionate environmentalists themselves, have a commendable track record of safeguarding Georgia’s environment. Despite population growth and increased vehicular traffic, the air and water in Georgia are cleaner now than they were 20 years ago. If the EPD approves the permit, it would be based on sincere belief that it is ensuring Okefenokee’s safety.

The review process for the mining permit is ongoing, with the EPD’s preliminary approval subject to public scrutiny. Though public opposition is significant, decisions aren’t swayed by popularity. They are made based on scientific rigor. Any final ruling faces review by administrative law judges and potentially higher courts, ensuring thorough assessment before mining commences.

In proposing a solution, I urge opponents to consider purchasing the disputed land rather than resorting to costly campaigns or legislative interventions. Collaborating with environmental groups, foundations and corporations to acquire the land aligns with successful conservation efforts seen in Georgia. By rallying support and funding, we can mitigate the conflict while protecting Okefenokee’s integrity.

Let’s maintain trust in the process and refrain from assuming ill intentions. The facts are clear: Environmental advocates aren’t anti-property rights, the mining company isn’t driven solely by profit, and the EPD seeks to make informed decisions. Ultimately, everyone shares the goal of preserving the Okefenokee.

Dwight Davis resigned from the board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources when his term as chair ended on Jan. 23. The opinions expressed herein are his personal opinions and have not been approved in advance by any agents of the state of Georgia.

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 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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