Category Archives: Swamp

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 Continue reading

Permit application deficiencies; water modeling, monitoring, and management, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida –WWALS to GA-EPD, TPM TiO2 mining 2024-04-09

Here are the WWALS comments sent to GA-EPD yesterday against the proposed titanium dioxide mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Thanks to all who also sent comments to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) during the 60-day comment period.

[Application deficiencies in TPM TiO2 mining permits: Modeling, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida --WWALS to GA-EPD 2024-04-09]
Application deficiencies in TPM TiO2 mining permits: Modeling, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida –WWALS to GA-EPD 2024-04-09

Next, we wait for GA-EPD to read all the comments. Supposedly they have to reply to all questions in those comments.

Most likely then GA-EPD will issue the actual permits. Then lawsuits start flying.

If I am not mistaken, you can still send comments to TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. They won’t be considered part of the 60-day comment period, but they will go into the public record, retrievable via an open records request, and usable in lawsuits.

The WWALS Comment

See also PDF. Continue reading

Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium 2024-03-25

Update 2024-03-27: Last days to oppose GA HB 1146, the rich private water system bill 2024-03-27.

Help stop the Georgia legislature from passing bad bills in a rush before it ends Wednesday.

[Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man's water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium]
Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium

The former fake dragline mining moratorium that failed got pasted onto another bill, SB 132. Although you cannot even see the current text on the Georgia legislature web page, this slapped-in bill still has too many restrictions on appeals and would do nothing to stop the currently proposed mine or any other mine using different mining methods.

Here’s how to contact your Georgia Senate member:
https://wwals.net/about/elected-officials/georgia-senate/

Here’s how to contact your Georgia House member:
https://wwals.net/about/elected-officials/georgia-house/

Floridians, please ask your Georgia friends and relatives to do this.

HB 1172 says people can boat or fish on “navigable” rivers, but doesn’t say they can step ashore, even if they capsize. The previous poorly-fashioned bill to define navigable did not pass, so HB 1172 would also leave the possibility of streams long used for boating and fishing getting closed off by private property owners according to Georgia’s antiquated 1863 definition of navigable. Also, removing any mention of the public trust doctrine is not a good idea. Continue reading

Video: Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine –Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21

Here is the video of Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, giving the third WWALS Webinar, about the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers: why we protect it and the proposed strip mine that threatens it, as well as a recent Conservation Fund study.

[Video: Okefenokee Swamp, over proposed strip mine, Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21]
Video: Okefenokee Swamp, over proposed strip mine, Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21

Here is the video:
https://youtu.be/9EjO_kNue1g?si=GvyTL3xUc2HDtwpc

This webinar was held by zoom, noon-1 PM, Thursday, March 21, 2024.

Some things mentioned in the video: Continue reading

Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle

This Thursday, join us online at noon by zoom for Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine —Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21.
https://wwals.net/?p=64219

This Saturday at 9AM, join us to see what we’re protecting, immediately downstream of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), Suwannee River Wilderness Paddle, Griffis Fish Camp to Fargo 2024-03-23.
https://wwals.net/?p=64423

[Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle]
Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle

Meanwhile, things are heating up against the proposal by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) to strip mine for titanium dioxide (TiO2) within three miles of the ONWR.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) issued Continue reading

Atkinson County, GA, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the strip mine 2024-03-14

Thanks to the Atkinson County Commissioners for passing this resolution unanimously Thursday evening. We will get a signed copy soon.

[Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine]
Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine

Shirley Kokidko, who lives in Pearson, the county seat, said a few words. I gave the shortest speech ever, “We could speak for half an hour. But if the Okefenokee Swamp isn’t worth protecting, what is?”

As they voted, they said things such as, “this would affect our fishing.”

A Commissioner sought me out in the parking lot afterwards to remark, “This is our heritage, our way of life.”

After Berrien County, plus the city of Nashville, this is the second county on the Alapaha River to pass such a resolution.

It is the fifth sixth such resolution in Georgia state Senate District 8, after Valdosta, Ware County and Waycross, Clinch, and Echols Counties. Maybe Senator Russ Goodman will be interested in that.

Berrien County and the city of Nashville are in Continue reading

THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 –Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18 1913-03-13

A century ago, Louis Pendleton of Philadelphia, formerly of Valdosta, published a newspaper story about the Ouaquaphenogan with a version of the ‘daughters of the sun’ legend and references to William Bartram.

Vickie Ledbetter Everitte posted this newspaper page image on March 13, 2024, in the Valdosta Heritage Foundation facebook group. She transcribed the date as March 13, 1913, but on closer inspection those look much more like eights than threes.

She has since clarified, “The date is 1913 – My print at home is much clearer. Sorry for any confusion.”

[THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 --Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18]
THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 –Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18

Here is a transcription of the article.


THE VALDOSTA TIMES, VALDOSTA, GA, THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1918 MARCH 13, 1913.

THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890

Col. Ebenezer Wakely, of Chicago, has been saving up old copies of The Valdosta Times for many years and occasionally he sends a copy to this office containing some matter of interest. This week we received a copy of the edition of April 5, 1890, containing an article from Mr. Louis Pendleton, which was written for the Atlanta Constitution in regard to the Okefinokee swamps. The article is of interest at the present time and is reproduced here. It is as follows:

“Editor Constitution: Among those who have recently discussed the Okefinokee swamp, looking toward its sale by the State to the highest bidder, there are perhaps some who do not know that the great morass was the subject of history as long ago as a hundred years, and the subject of legend at a still earlier period.

“Not long since, Continue reading

Hamilton County, Florida, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the strip mine 2024-02-20

Update 2024-04-07: Added names of County Commissioners in the form as passed.

Update 2024-03-16: Atkinson County, GA, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the strip mine 2024-03-14.

County opposition to the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp has crossed the GA-FL line.

The Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Florida, on February 20, 2024, passed this resolution. A signed copy is forthcoming.

[Hamilton County, Florida, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the strip mine 2024-02-20]
Hamilton County, Florida, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the strip mine 2024-02-20

That makes four counties on the Suwannee River downstream of the Okefenokee Swamp: Ware, Clinch, Echols, and Hamilton.

Plus many other counties and cities.
https://wwals.net/2021/12/10/resolutions-for-okefenokee-swamp-against-strip-mine-suwannee-riverkeeper-sgrc-2021-12-09/

Resolution 2024-

A RESOLUTION FOR THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, HAMILTON COUNTY, FLORIDA

WHEREAS, Hamilton County takes pride in its rivers, including the Suwannee River to the east and south;

WHEREAS, the citizens of Hamilton County value the natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities afforded by the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee River and their watersheds;

WHEREAS, the Okefenokee Swamp is a unique natural, cultural, and economic treasure known worldwide, identified as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a National Natural Landmark, a National Wilderness Area, and a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention;

WHEREAS, the Okefenokee Swamp is the headwaters of the St Marys River and of the Suwannee River, famous worldwide;

WHEREAS, the Suwannee River forms the eastern and southern boundaries of Hamilton County for more than eighty miles;

WHEREAS, Hamilton County hosts several Suwannee River access points, demonstrating commitment to recreation on the Suwannee River through various initiatives;

WHEREAS, the Hamilton County Commission has shown commitment to water quality and waterway recreation through the approval of the Comprehensive Plan, providing protections for the Suwannee River and its watersheds;

WHEREAS, the citizens value the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee River for water quality and habitat protection;

WHEREAS, the environmental impact of strip mining in proximity to the Okefenokee Swamp raises significant concerns for the watershed;

WHEREAS, thorough and unbiased review processes are crucial in assessing the potential environmental consequences of mining activities;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners:

  1. Support the preservation and protection of the Okefenokee Swamp and its surrounding watersheds.
  2. Advocate for a comprehensive, transparent, and impartial review of any proposed mining activities near the Okefenokee Swamp, including public hearings, public comments, and independent third-party review.
  3. Encourage the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to thoroughly review and assess all mining permit applications to the same degree as a thorough U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Area-Wide Environmental Impact Statement, with public hearings, public comments, and independent third-party review.
  4. Advocate for legislative measures in Georgia to prevent future strip mines near environmentally sensitive areas, including the Okefenokee Swamp and the blackwater rivers in the Suwannee River Basin.
  5. Request the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to engage with the permitting process of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to ensure thorough consideration of environmental impacts.

PASSED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, Hamilton County, Florida, this day of 2024.

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
HAMILTON COUNTY, FLORIDA

Attest:

 
Greg Godwin
Ex-officio Clerk

By
Chairman, Robert E. Brown
District 3

Member, Jimmy Murphy
District 1

Member, Robby Roberson
District 2

Member, Travis Erixton
District 4

Member, Richie McCoy
District 5

Approved as to Form By:

Andrew J. Decker, III
Hamilton County Attorney

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

All WWALS water trails navigable according to GA HB 1397 2024-02-22

Update 2024-02-27: Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27.

Update 2024-02-25: Need to add Sugar Creek, as well as Cat Creek and Franks Creek.

Following up on the December 2023 report of the Fishing Rights Study Committee, that Committee’s Chair, Rep. Burchett of Waycross, who is also the House Majority Whip, this Thursday introduced HB 1397, which defines navigable streams in Georgia.

[Warrior Creek, Okapilco Creek, Deep Creek, Bird Wing Run]
Warrior Creek, Okapilco Creek, Deep Creek, Bird Wing Run

The bill’s list appears to include all of Georgia parts of the WWALS water trails, plus some creeks and an upstream reach of the Alapaha River.

However, the entire Alapahoochee River is missing, https://wwals.net/maps/alapaha-water-trail/arwt-map/arwt-points/#ga-376-bridge, as is the East Fork of the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp. The North Fork of the Suwannee River is missing, but it’s so overgrown that’s not surprising.

Considering the inclusion of Okapilco Creek, the bill needs to add Sugar Creek below Baytree Road, which is a nice urban creek with a beach and shoals, https://wwals.net/?p=56221 with the WaterGoat trash trap, https://wwals.net/?p=63876 and will be used this coming Saturday, March 2, as the early takeout for the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle. https://wwals.net/?p=64095

Similarly, the bill could add add Cat Creek below GA 37 and Franks Creek below GA 122. That would help with finding and fixing E. coli problems seen at bridges on those creeks. WWALS has already started investigating those creek problems and has applied for a testing grant. https://wwals.net/?p=58982

These are the bill’s items in the Suwannee River Basin. If I’ve missed any, somebody let me know. Continue reading

Okefenokee bills, Georgia legislature 2024-02-21

As crossover day approaches in the Georgia legislature, events are moving faster about the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

In addition to a mining prohibition bill that has been in the legislature since last year, now there is a fine, draft permits, and two new bills, for increased criminal penalties, and for a mining moratorium (with a big catch).

None of these are likely to stop this specific “demonstration” mine, but some of them could prevent any further such mines.

Crossover day is the day by which a bill has to have been passed by one house to get into the other house. It’s February 29 this year, Thursday of next week.

[Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles]
Okefenokee NationaGl Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles
Map courtesy Prof. Can Denizman and students, Valdosta State University.

Draft Permits

As previously mentioned, On February 9, 2024, GA-EPD published draft permits (surface mining, water withdrawal, and air quality). for the applications by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) to strip mine for titanium dioxide (TiO2) within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, between Moniac and St. George, Georgia. You have until April 9 to comment, and there is a public online meeting on March 5.

Details here:
https://wwals.net/?p=64142

Consent Orders

Back in January, I was told by a former state legislator that these miners be very careful to avoid infractions, because they had a lot of money riding on their venture. A week later, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) issued a Consent Order on TPM, saying back in 2018 the miners had drilled soil samples without a professional geologist or engineer supervising, as required by state law, and they also failed to provide a letter of credit or a performance bond. TPM “voluntarily” agreed to pay a tiny fine of $20,000. For more details, see Russ Bynum, AP, 24 January 2024, Company seeking to mine near Okefenokee will pay $20,000 to settle environmental violation claims.

This is not the first time TPM has been under a Consent Order. Continue reading