Tag Archives: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Twin Pines Minerals sues Army Corps about oversight of strip mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2022-06-27

Well, that did not take long. Only three weeks after an Assistant Secretary of the Army told the Army Corps it had to resume oversight of the proposed titanium-dioxide strip mine site too near the Okefenokee Swamp, the miners have sued the Corps. They still want to strip mine for white paint materials within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, an economic engine for southeast Georgia and northeast Florida, and an irreplaceable refuge for numerous land, water, and bird species. That Swamp is the headwaters of the St Marys and Suwannee Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida, including for agriculture and industry. There must be better sources of jobs for Charlton County, Georgia.

[Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2022-02-12]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2020-02-12, 30.52081, -82.1261

Mary Landers, The Current, June 27, 2022, Mining company sues Army Corps over project near Okefenokee: Twin Pines claims agency erred in overturning decision and seeking Muscogee Nation’s input.

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers last week, claiming the federal agency erred when it bowed to “stakeholder pressure” earlier this month and made it harder for the company to get permits to mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

…In its filing, Twin Pines maintains “The Twin Pines Approved Jurisdictional Determinations were issued in compliance with all laws, regulations, and policies — including the tribal consultation policy — in effect when they were issued.”

More specifically, the company contends Continue reading

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff advocates for protection of the Okefenokee Swamp 2022-05-25

Like Sen. Ossoff, you can help stop a strip mine proposed far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, and the mine sits on top of the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink.

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp, Kyra Purvis, WFXL, Wednesday, May 25th 2022,

[Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14]
Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp and its national wildlife refuge.

The swamp is currently being looked at by Twin Pines Minerals LLC as a place for titanium mining.

Ossoff is asking for a joint effort between both parties and is calling on all environmental agencies to protect one of Georgia’s most precious natural resources.

“Our state may lose the Okefenokee swamp, this precious natural resource, unless EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Army Corps and Georgia’s environmental protection division take action to stop it,” said Ossoff in his call to action, “Overwhelmingly the people of Georgia and of the local community treasure the Okefenokee swamp. But I’m sounding the alarm because we need an all hands-on deck effort now to bring the pressure to bear necessary to save the Okefenokee swamp from destruction.”

Ossoff says he has Continue reading

Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, Clinch and Ware Counties, GA –The Conservation Fund 2021-06-22

Tipped off by a local member of the Board of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), I looked up this Suwannee River Headwaters Land and Water Protection project.

[Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia]
Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia

These acquisitions would protect most of both banks of the Suwannee River from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to Fargo, which is in turn more than a third of the Suwannee River proper in Georgia (below the East and Middle Forks to the GA-FL line). Continue reading

Suwannee River Sill, Griffis Fish Camp 2019-12-08

The water gates at the Suwannee River Sill are always open, despite the widespread Florida myth that in big rains Georgia opens them to flood Florida.

[The Sill is always open for Suwannee River water, 09:50:32, 30.804, -82.4177]
The Sill is always open for Suwannee River water, 09:50:32, 30.8040000, -82.4177000

These pictures are from camping two nights at Griffis Fish Camp.

See also the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, extended into Georgia. Continue reading

Help Suwannee Riverkeeper Save Okefenokee Swamp

To send your comments to Georgia officials, follow this link:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

Julia Widmann, Waterkeeper Alliance, March 18, 2021, Help Suwannee Riverkeeper Save Okefenokee Swamp,

Today, you can take action to help Suwannee Riverkeeper protect Okefenokee Swamp and the surrounding community in Southern Georgia and northern Florida from the risk of dangerous mining pollution.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is home to the beloved blackwater Okefenokee Swamp, a Wetland of International Importance and a proposed World Heritage Site. Okefenokee Swamp is an ecologically diverse wetland, loved by boaters, fishers, and birders, as well as alligators and blue herons, and hunters on nearby property. It’s an important tourist attraction for members of the public all across the country and provides great economic benefits to the local area. Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman has helped lead the way in protecting this special place.

In 2019, Twin Pines Minerals LLC, an Alabama-based company, first proposed a titanium mine beside the swamp. Twin Pines’ proposed mine poses dangerous risks Continue reading

Nominating Okefenokee NWR for UNESCO World Heritage List 2021-01-26

The U.S. National Park Service in January announced a 15-day comment period for nominating sites to the UNESCO World Heritage List. We nominated the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, using testimony from some of WWALS members. I added the illustrations to this post of the WWALS nomination letter. And you can still help stop the titanium strip mine from locating too near the Swamp.

[Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River, birds, mine, paddlers]
Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River, birds, mine, paddlers


January 26, 2021

To: Jonathan Putnam
Office of International Affairs
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
jonathan_putnam@nps.gov
(202) 354-1809

Re: Nominating Okefenokee NWR for UNESCO World Heritage List, Docket Number NPS-WASO-OIA-31249 PIN00IO14.XI0000

Dear Mr. Putnam,

As you know, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) is on the UNESCO Tentative List for the United States, and thus is eligible for the U.S. to submit an ONWR nomination file.
https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5252/

[Suwannee River in Okefenokee Swamp]
Suwannee River in Okefenokee Swamp
in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The purple line is the approximate actual divide between the Suwannee and St. Marys River watersheds in the Swamp, still being worked out with St. Marys Riverkeeper.

As Suwannee Riverkeeper and for our umbrella organization WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., I would like to encourage you to nominate ONWR this year. The vast majority of the Okefenokee Swamp is in the Suwannee River Basin, and some 85% of the outflow of the Swamp goes down the Suwannee River, which continues through Georgia and across Florida, where it is the subject of the state song, to the Gulf of Mexico.

[Okefenokee, Suwannee River, Gulf of Mexico]
Okefenokee, Suwannee River, Gulf of Mexico

WWALS member Bobby McKenzie sums it up from his perspective:

“As a world traveler for the past 20 plus years I must say that the Okefenokee Swamp holds its own when it comes to enchantment. I never would have thought I would have used the term enchantment to describe a swamp, but it happens to be the best one. My adventures have taken me to many places, each with their own charm and enchantment and history. I recall my first experience outside the United States, it was to the Chagos Archipelago part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. The crystal-clear waters of the islands and the sanctity of the massive coconut crabs and the hawksbill sea turtles. Soon I found myself living in South Korea and experiencing the Buddhist temples embedded in the cliffs of the East Sea (more well known as the Sea of Japan) and the fishing islands of Sunyu-do in the yellow sea. At Jeju Island with its botanical gardens, lava tubes, and extinct volcano, I ascended the stairs of Mt Sanbanggulsa Temple where a spring drips from the ceiling pools into the temple cave and had a ceremonial sip. Years living in Europe showed me the awe of the Dolomites, the Carpathian Mountains, the Iron Gates, the Danube Delta and the switchback road of Transfagarasan. I have met the wonders of the Black Forest, I’ve skied Mount Blanc, Matterhorn, and the Zugspitze and swam in the ocean at Vilamoura in Algarve with its ocean caves. I dove the cliffs of Ischia and enjoyed the hot thermal springs of the Mediterranean. I’ve hiked miles through the Ardennes Forests and the ancient vineyards along the Mosel River. I have witnessed the famed White Cliffs of Dover, the puzzling Stonehenge, the North Sea, English Channel, and the beaches of Normandy. My time in Hawaii introduced me to the many natural phenomena such as the Makapu Tide Pools, the Queen’s Bath at Moku Nui, and the Mermaid Caves in Nanakuli. The pill boxes at Lanikai, Coco Head along with the Hidden Lagoon offered breath-taking views of the island of Oahu.

[Bobby McKenzie in canopy towards Floyd's Island]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Bobby McKenzie in canopy towards Floyd’s Island 2020-11-07

“There are many places I that I can recall that I have not mentioned. But all these places share one thing in common, they are amazing places that most people have never heard of or will see in their lifetime. They are all wonderous and inspiring places in their own right. This is true with the Okefenokee Swamp. I first learned of the Okefenokee as I was planning my move to South Georgia from Hawaii. I was searching for outdoor activities and the first thing I came across was a website talking about 120 miles of water trail and multiple camping options in the swamp. I immediately wanted to do this trip or at least a portion of it. I have since made a handful of trips into the swamp and learned about the history of Billy’s Island, the Sill, the timber operation and among other stories. My most recent trip into the swamp was with the WWALS Watershed Coalition. We paddled 8 miles out to camp at Floyds Island. The entire journey was just so peaceful. However, when we made the turn onto the green trail from Stephen C. Foster State Park, the swamp became extraordinarily enchanting. The cathedral-like tunnel that we paddled through for miles until we reached Floyd’s Island was like a portal to a fairytale dimension. In many instances, the colors of the fall, the canopy formation of the trees and the mirrored reflections were hypnotizing, we could have paddled this natural tunnel for hours and still want more. Upon reaching the camp site, everyone in our party was just magically delighted about the spiritual connection that the swamp bestowed upon us. The return trip the next day was even more mesmerizing. I never would have thought that I would have used the word enchanting to describe a swamp, but it was just that. I am glad to add the Okefenokee Swamp to my long list of must-see places. As with all of the places listed above, I never knew that I needed to experience them until I did. The Okefenokee is no different, it’s an enchanting place that you never knew you needed to experience.” Continue reading

Okefenokee Flyover 2021-01-10

Yes, Twin Pines Minerals still has mining equipment on its site near GA 94, only a few miles from the Okefenokee Swamp. And yes, the land TPM owns still extends northwest to within a few hundred feet of the Swamp and a few thousand feet of the National Wildlife Refuge. Here are some context aerials, showing proximity to the Swamp, Moniac, St. George, and the Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds

You can help stop that strip mine for paint, by contacting the Georgia governor and other elected officials; see below for how.

Here’s a closeup of the current mine staging site: Continue reading

Please stop a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp that threatens both Florida and Georgia –WKFL 2020-12-11

You, too, can do what all the Waterkeepers of Florida did, and ask the Governor of Georgia and other elected officials to stop that mine too near the Okefenokee:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

And you can ask the runoff candidates for Senate and Public Service Commission, what’s your position on that mine and the Swamp? https://wwals.net/?p=54359

To: Governor Brian Kemp
   206 Washington Street
   Suite 203 State Capitol
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   (404) 656-1776
   brian.kemp@georgia.gov

Cc: Trey Kilpatrick, Chief of Staff
trey.kilpatrick@georgia.gov
Caylee Noggle, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations
caylee.noggle@georgia.gov
Bert Brantley, Deputy Chief of Staff, External Affairs
bert.brantley@georgia.gov

Re: Please stop a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp that threatens both Florida and Georgia (PDF)

Dear Governor Kemp and staff,

[Map, letter, WKFL]
Map, letter, WKFL

On behalf of our respective organizations and our thousands of members, we are writing to express our concerns regarding the Twin Pines Minerals, LLC application number SAS-2018-00554-SP-HAR. Waterkeepers Florida is a regional entity composed of all 14 Waterkeeper organizations working in the State of Florida to protect and restore our water resources across over 45,000 square miles of watershed, which is home to over 15 million Floridians.

Georgia is all that stands between that titanium strip mine within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, proposed by coal miners from Alabama. Part of the Okefenokee Swamp is in Florida, and the Swamp is the headwaters of both the St. Marys River, which forms part of the border between Georgia and Florida, and of the Suwannee River, which flows through Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Thus if the mining activities of the applicant affect the Okefenokee, or the underlying Floridan Aquifer, they may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida. In addition, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge promises more economic benefit to Florida than any other NWR. https://tinyurl.com/y5dws8oa

Please direct the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to thoroughly examine the five state permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM). https://wwals.net/?p=54009 The evidence indicates DNR should reject those applications. At the least, an environmental review equivalent to an Environmental Impact Statement should be conducted, with public hearings and third-party review.

The 60,000 people who wrote to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers against that mine are still opposed, despite the Corps abdicating its oversight. https://wwals.net/?p=53867

For many reasons to reject permits for this mine, see Continue reading

Georgia Runoff Candidates: Position on strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp? 2020-12-16

December 16, 2020 (PDF)

To: David Perdue
Jon Ossof
Kelly Loeffler
Raphael Warnock
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald
Daniel Blackman

Re: What will runoff candidates do to stop the proposed strip mine next to the Okefenokee Swamp?

[Letter, Suwannee Riverkeeper, mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, fish kill]
Letter, Suwannee Riverkeeper, mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, fish kill

Dear candidates in the Georgia runoff elections for U.S. Senate and Public Service Commission,

A company from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals LLC, proposes to strip-mine for titanium dioxide for paint within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp. Continue reading

Water Trails, Okefenokee, Pellet Plant, Songwriting Contest, Light Parade –Suwannee Riverkeeper on Steve Nichols Radio 2020-12-08

Always fun to be on the Steve Nichols radio show, 105.9 FM WVGA, especially when he just agreed to be the Master of Ceremonies for the 2021 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

You can ask Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to get GA-EPD to deny permits for a titanium strip mine far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp. While you’re at it, you can ask him to deny a permit for the Adel wood pellet plant. You’ll see our water trail signs popping up along the rivers and on the roadways, and we’re distributing the brochures. Don’t forget to come to the Solstice Light Parade at Banks Lake, Saturday, December 19, 2020, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday, August 21, 2021 at the Turner Center Arts Park in Valdosta.

Here are WWALS videos.