Read our fact sheet to learn more about the Okefenokee Swamp and Okefenokee Protection Act.

Georgia River Network Comment Letters 

Georgia River Network reviews permits and writes comment letters to Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to present science-backed evidence and oppose mining.

What would be protected under the Okefenokee Protection Act?

The Okefenokee Protection Act, HB 71,  will create a boundary of protection around the most vulnerable sections of Trail Ridge.  This bill will prevent future mining on Trail Ridge, the geological barrier and eastern boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Okefenokee peatland is a valuable carbon sink. 

GRN executive director Rena Ann Peck and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge biologist Sara Aicher presented science on how peatland in the Okefenokee stores carbon at the  Georgia Climate Conference.

Mining on Trail Ridge would dewater the wetlands within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, expose the peat, and release carbon. Dewatered peatlands could release 28 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of 1/4 of Georgia’s total carbon emissions.

Numerous organizations, Georgia legislators, government agency heads, scientists and south Georgia residents presented written testimonies with science-backed research to oppose mining on Trail Ridge. These testimonies were presented to the House of Natural Resources and Environment Committee in March 2023.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that the proposed mining project would destroy the structural integrity of Trail Ridge, the geological barrier along the eastern boundary of the swamp. Trail Ridge helps retain and regulate the water levels of the swamp. Mining on Trail Ridge will dewater wetlands in the swamp and induce drought, putting adjacent private property and timber lands at greater risk of wildfire.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is the fourth largest Tribe in the United States with roots and legacy directly connected to the Okefenokee Swamp.  The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has joined the fight to prevent mining in the Trail Ridge sand formation connected to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Principal Chief and Chief Executive of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation David Hill declared Trail Ridge a Sacred Site.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation prepared a packet of resources that includes a cultural overview of Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s territory, Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s letter of support for nominating the Okefenokee as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,  Muscogee (Creek) Nation letters to the USACE including a letter from Principal Chief David Hill declaring Trail Ridge a Sacred Site,  letters from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary, to the USACE and Secretary Deb Haaland’s letter to the Governor of Georgia opposing the Twin Pines Mining, LLC, and  Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s letter of support for the Okefenokee Protection Act.

Hear from RaeLynn Butler, acting secretary of culture and humanities and historic and cultural preservation department manager of the Muscogee (Creek Nation)and Chief David Hill on the importance of protecting the Okefenokee Swamp and ancestral homelands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.