Tag Archives: ONWR

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

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

Okefenokee season, fall 2023

Apparently it’s Okefenokee season this fall, with resolutions for the Swamp and against the proposed strip mine, when Clinch County also reserved cash match for a Dark Sky Observatory, one of three natural resources economy projects around the Swamp. There is some movement on listing the Refuge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site including an art auction dinner in Brunswick. Charlton, Ware, and Clinch Counties held their first-ever collaboration, Okefenokee Gateway Getaway. There were dinners and paddles at all three entrances to the Swamp, including a WWALS paddle to camp at Floyds Island, the most remote spot in Georgia, with people from Miami, Alabama, South Carolina, and Atlanta, and a Georgia Water Coalition panel attended by Suwannee Riverkeeper.

You can still help stop the proposed titanium dioxide strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining

[Collage of Okefenokee season, fall 2023]
Collage of Okefenokee season, fall 2023

In August, Echols and Clinch Counties passed resolutions for the Swamp and against the proposed titanium dioxide mine. When DeKalb County passed a resolution in November, it mentioned those, and a previous resolution by Waycross and Ware County. Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp watershed boundaries 2015-08-01

Where is the divide in the Okefenokee Swamp between the Suwannee and St. Marys River Basins?

Here are some more maps that do not resolve that question.

For better resolution, advice from a qualified hydrologist is needed.

For reaching the likely divide area by water or land, it appears there are no open paths. Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just that it would be difficult.

Meanwhile, you can help stop the proposed titanium strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium

[Basins and HUC10s, Okefenokee Swamp]
Basins and HUC10s, Okefenokee Swamp

Thanks to Mike Lusk, Manager of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), for sending me the Water Resource Inventory and Assessment: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS, August 2015.

It contains this interesting map of sub-basins of the Okefenokee Swamp, which shows Continue reading

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

Lunch and drive by mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-06

Since there are two weekend outings in the Okefenokee Swamp 7-8 November 2020, I suggested some paddlers may also want to drive by the proposed titanium mine site southeast of the Swamp. Kim Bednarek, Executive Director of Okefenokee Swamp Park, suggested we meet first at Lacy’s Kountry Store in Moniac, for lunch, talks, and discussion. She and Rena Ann Peck, Executive Director of Georgia River Network, will say a few words. Also saying a few words will be either Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman or WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. Possibly we will have another speaker.

[Moniac marked by green ellipse]
Moniac marked by green ellipse on the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and the Okefenokee Swamp.

No doubt everybody will have plenty to discuss, considering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just abdicated oversight of streams near the mine site and Twin Pines Minerals says it will plow ahead yet TPM still needs five Georgia permits.

This is just a small, informal, side trip. We will only be able to see the mine site from the public highway. Yes, I did ask TPM if they would hold a tour for us, but they said they were only allowing employees and contractors on their site.

When: Noon, Friday, 6 November 2020.
Please come early so we can start at noon.

Where: Lacy’s Kountry Store, 389 GA-94, St George, GA 31562.
They have a wide selection of foods you can order.

GPS: 30.518918, -82.224829

Event: facebook

May I also recommend you read this book: Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, by Janisse Ray. Continue reading

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Update 2020-11-30: WWALS asks GA Gov. Kemp to stop strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-30.

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

Reject or EIS: Twin Pines Minerals mine near Okefenokee –U.S. Rep. Al Lawson 2020-02-13

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr, Twitter, 2PM, 14 February 2020, @RepAlLawsonJr,

I sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s plan to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. These actions could have detrimental effects on the area’s biodiversity and natural resources.

[U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE]
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE


AL LAWSON
5TH DISTRICT, FLORIDA
ASSISTANT MAJORITY WHIP
COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL SERVICES
COMMITTEE ON
AGRICULTURE

Congress of the United States
 
House of Representatives
 
Washington, DC 20515-0905

February 13, 2020

Col. Daniel Hibner
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District
100 W. Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401

Dear Hearing Officer:

I am writing to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s application for a clean water (CWA) permit to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Osceola National Forest, and Osceola Wildlife Management Area. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carefully consider the significant environmental, social, and economic costs that could occur if the permit is granted. It is crucial that the Corps require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Furthermore, the Corps should reject the permit application if it appears the mine will harm the environment.

Trail Ridge and Okefenokee NWR

If approved, the project would destroy portions of Trail Ridge, which acts as Continue reading