The Okefenokee is Endangered

Big news – the Okefenokee Swamp has been named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2023 by American Rivers due to the threat of mining.

Although this big news isn’t technically good news, it reflects a successful effort by Georgia River Network to nominate the swamp for this national list, garnering national attention for the issue and increasing pressure on Georgia leaders to prioritize the protection of this irreplaceable natural resource.

We are now about four years into the fight to protect the Okefenokee and Georgia River Network is not backing down, but we need your help to keep up the effort.

You can help by making a donation today to support our efforts to protect the Okefenokee’s future. We can’t continue to be the voice for Georgia’s rivers and wetlands without you.

What We Are Fighting For:

The Okefenokee Swamp, one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders; the largest blackwater swamp in North America; and a wetland of international importance, is threatened by a proposed titanium mine.

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, an Alabama mining company with a poor track record of environmental stewardship, has asked federal and state authorities permission to operate a 898-acre heavy mineral sand mine next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. This is the first phase of a mining operation on a 12,000-acre site. The company proposes digging 50-foot deep trenches in Trail Ridge, the very rise of land that helps regulate water levels in the swamp. These excavations would extend below the water table of the swamp and could alter water levels in the swamp.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has written that “should impacts occur, they may not be able to be reversed, repaired or mitigated for.” Click here to read an open letter from the science community, signed by more than 40 scientists from across the nation, about the proposed mining project.

At risk is one of the last self-contained, naturally functioning wetlands left on Earth. Among the most visited National Wildlife Refuges in the country, the Okefenokee hosts some 600,000 visitors annually who help create more than 750 local jobs and a total annual economic output of $64.7 million in the four counties surrounding the swamp.

Scroll down to take action to save the swamp. 


Okefenokee Protection Update

Update as of September 2023 

Last month, we announced that the National Park Service received over 10,000 comments in support of nominating the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The National Park System  officially selected the Okefenokee for the international world heritage site bid.

Your comments made a difference! 

“The decision is the result of consultation with the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage and the review of public comments submitted in response to an earlier notice,” the Federal Registrar notice stated. 

The National Park System can now prepare a nomination. WABE reported that “the United States can only nominate one location each year for the United Nations honor, and the National Park System (NPS) ultimately selects the singular nominee from a list of proposed options” of many bids. The Okefenokee is the first unit in the National Wildlife Refuge System to be nominated. The AJC reported that the Okefenokee could join the ranks of other globally-recognized sites, such as the Everglades and Yosemite National Park in the United States, and internationally-acclaimed  areas of natural beauty, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Victoria Falls.

Three Resolutions passed at the local level to protect the Okefenokee. These Resolutions will encourage members of General Assembly to pass the Okefenokee Protection Act. 

We are now awaiting a decision from EPD to either deny the permit or issue a draft permit, which will open a 60-day public comment period.

At this juncture, you can take action by emailing Governor Kemp to ask that he:

(1) Oppose allocation of mining permits from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to Twin Pines Minerals, and
(2) Support legislation that can protect the Okefenokee for generations to come

Okefenokee Protection Update

Update as of August 2023 

Last month, we asked you to:

1. Email Georgia legislators and ask them to sign the Okefenokee Protection Act.

2. Urge Governor Kemp to oppose Twin Pines Minerals mining permit application now being reviewed by Georgia EPD.

3. Comment to National Park Service to consider Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We are proud to announce your public comments to the National Park Service were heard! Over 10,000 comments were received, which shows an outpouring of support. Thank you for taking action! The comment period to the National Park Service is now closed.

We still need you to take action to email Georgia legislators to sign the Okefenokee Protection Act and urge Governor Kemp to oppose the mining permit.  You can do both of these actions on by clicking the button below:

Okefenokee Protection Update

Update as of July 2023 

Even though the Okefenokee Protection Act HB 71 did not get called for a vote in the House during the 2023 Georgia legislative session, 93 legislators (more than half the House of Representatives) signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, a historic level of bipartisan support. Advocacy efforts continue for the Okefenokee Protection Act to be introduced and passed during the 2024 Georgia legislative session.

A Supreme Court ruling in May rolled back federal wetlands protections, which excludes many Georgia lands from federal oversight. Barring action from Congress, the only way protections can be strengthened in Georgia will be through the Georgia legislature and state-level rule making.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has been nominated for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the National Park Service is now accepting public comments. The swamp patently meets the UNESCO committee’s requirements for protection, integrity, and biodiversity.  Attaining World Heritage Site status will raise the visibility of the Okefenokee and boost ecotourism.

It’s more important than ever to reach out to Georgia lawmakers and Georgia EPD and urge them to protect the Okefenokee! And one of the best ways we can protect the Okefenokee is to celebrate the significance of the swamp as a natural wonder.

Your actions today can help protect the Okefenokee for generations to come.

1.  Ask Georgia legislators to sign the Okefenokee Protection Act.

2.  Urge Governor Kemp to oppose Twin Pines Minerals mining permit application now being reviewed by Georgia EPD.

3.  Comment to National Park Service to consider Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

ACTION ALERT: Email the Governor!

Update as of April 2023

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC continues their dangerous pursuit for permission to operate a heavy mineral sand mine next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
The mining is proposed for the Okefenokee’s Trail Ridge, the prehistoric barrier island that helped create the swamp by holding back its waters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and respected scientists have warned that the mine could affect the hydrology of the area, causing irreversible damage to the swamp including increased frequency of drought and wildfires. In addition, the first phase of the mine would destroy over 300 acres of wetlands, pump over a million gallons a day of fresh groundwater, discharge pollution, destroy important habitat, and cast noise and light over the refuge that will likely damage the visitor experience and the local economy.
The Okefenokee is one of the greatest remaining natural treasures in the world and holds significant economic, ecological, and cultural value for the people of Georgia. We cannot risk long-term damage to the swamp for an experimental, unsustainable mining project. Now is the time for state action to protect this national treasure.
Take action today to save the Okefenokee! Email Governor Kemp to ask that he:
(1) Oppose allocation of mining permits from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to Twin Pines Minerals, and
(2) Support legislation that can protect the Okefenokee for generations to come

ACTION ALERT: Submit Your Comment!

Update as of April 2023: Even though the comment period closed in March 2023, the EPD will still keep record of the comments submitted after the deadline.

On January 19, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division released Twin Pines Minerals LLC’s draft Mining Land Use Plan (Draft Plan) and opened the 60-day public commenting period – allowing concerned citizens and Swamp advocates to voice their concerns and opposition to Twin Pines’ mining proposal. Click the “Submit Your Comment” button to email your comment to the Georgia EPD and to state legislators fighting to pass legislation that would permanently protect Trail Ridge from future proposals to mine, or email your comment to or mail your comment to:

Land Protection Branch
4244 International Parkway, Atlanta Tradeport, Suite 104
Atlanta, GA 30354

Need help with your comment? –> Read Georgia River Network’s comment letter to the EPD by clicking here.

More information on the Draft Plan can be found at:

ACTION ALERT: Contact Your Representatives!

Update as of April 2023: Even though the legislative session closed in March 2023, and the Okefenokee Protection Act did not make it through committee, contacting your legislators will help keep the Okefenokee top of mind as your representatives prepare for the 2024 session.

On January 24, State Representative Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) introduced House Bill 71, the Okefenokee Protection Act, to prohibit the Georgia Environmental Protection Division from issuing, modifying or renewing future permits or accepting bonds to conduct surface mining operations on the Okefenokee Swamp’s Trail Ridge beginning on July 1, 2023. A bipartisan group of 35 legislators co-signed the bill to demonstrate their support.

The legislation was prompted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s plan to develop heavy mineral sands mines along Trail Ridge, the sandy ridge that runs along the eastern border of the swamp and helps keep the Okefenokee intact.

Proposals to mine this area have surfaced since the 1990s. While HB 71 would have no impact on the mining permit currently being weighed by the EPD, it would prohibit future mining along Trail Ridge.

Click the “Contact Your Legislator” button to ask your representatives to support HB 71.

More information about the Okefenokee Protection Act can be found at:

Okefenokee Destiny  Film Tour

Okefenokee Destiny is a love letter from locals to a deeply mysterious and largely unknown swamp as it comes under pressure from a mining company that could destroy it before it gains its rightful protected place in the world.

The Okefenokee Swamp, “The Trembling Earth,” is a place unlike any other in the world. It’s the largest intact blackwater wetland in North America and a mecca for research scientists from around the world. It’s also in the heart of an economically depressed region and under pressure from extractive industries. How can the Okefenokee be conserved for future generations – and what lessons can we learn to keep from repeating our past mistakes?

Okefenokee Destiny, a 14-minute PBS EcoSense for Living documentary, explores these questions and takes viewers on a journey through the swamp while introducing them to individuals and organizations working to protect this natural wonder. Georgia River Network is taking “Okefenokee Destiny” on a tour around Georgia to help amplify the movement to protect the wetlands from mining. All screenings will be followed by a brief Q&A with experts featured in the documentary.

If you would like us to bring a screening to your business, event or local theatre, please reach out to us at




Screening tour sponsored by:



Learn More + Resources

Charlton County Herald Notice

Okefenokee / St Marys River Named Most Endangered River of 2020 by American Rivers

Okefenokee Protection Alliance

American Rivers named the Okefenokee Swamp and St. Marys River as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2020. Rena Ann Peck, Executive Director of Georgia River Network, explains “The Okefenokee Swamp is like the heart of the regional Floridan aquifer system in southeast Georgia and northeast Florida. The life-force of water from the Okefenokee Swamp not only flows into the St. Marys River to the Atlantic Ocean, but also into the Suwannee River to the Gulf of Mexico.

Mining on Trail Ridge can draw down the water level of the Okefenokee Swamp and dewater headwater wetlands and tributaries and the rivers they feed, destroying natural habitat for federally listed species and providing dry peat fueling uncontrollable fires.” Read the press release.

Twin Pines Minerals Permit Application

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, an Alabama mining company, is seeking permission to operate a heavy mineral sand mine to extract titanium in Charlton County on Trail Ridge adjacent to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Trail Ridge is an ancient geologic formation impounding the swamp on its eastern boundary. Twin Pines’ 8,000-acre mining area is dangerously close to the Refuge.

Excavation and groundwater pumping could permanently alter the ancient geologic features that create the swamp and provide important wildlife habitat. Alterations to groundwater flow or impacts to the swamp could impact the Suwannee and St. Mary’s rivers. In addition, the mining could impact imperiled species, including gopher tortoises, a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Gopher tortoises are considered a “keystone” species on which other animals depend.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has written that “Should impacts occur, they may not be able to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for.” They originally submitted for a permit for a 2,400 acre mining destroying over 500 acres of wetlands and 4,658 linear feet of stream. Twin Pines withdrew this original application and now has resubmitted for mining 740 acres only 2.7 miles from the Refuge. We continue to oppose mining on Trail Ridge in order to protect the Okefenokee Swamp and the St. Marys and Suwannee rivers that originate from it.

Update as of June 3, 2022:

Changes to the Clean Water Act regulations enacted in early 2020 enabled Twin Pines Minerals LLC to bypass the federal wetlands permitting process and any federal environmental oversight of the mining proposal. This led to the fate of the mine hingeing on decisions made by Georgia leaders and the state’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

However, in early June of 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would be reasserting federal jurisdiction over the wetlands on Twin Pines’ mining site. In the memo, the Corps stated that the company had not adequately consulted with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation during the permit process. With this news, the Georgia EPD announced they would be putting the five environmental permits they were reviewing on hold and asked Twin Pines to reapply after they apply for and receive federal permits.

Georgia River Network and our partners in the Okefenokee Protection Alliance are encouraged by the Corps’ decision to reassert jurisdiction and are grateful that Senator Ossof and others have engaged in this issue and taken action to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from mining.

Get more details on the Okefenokee Protection Alliance’s Resources page.


Read Georgia River Network’s Comments to the Corps

The Okefenokee Swamp

Alligator Near Billies Lake

Photo by Tom Wilson

Covering 440,000 acres or 630 square miles, the Okefenokee is the largest blackwater swamp in North America and one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems. The swamp was designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 and is the largest NWR east of the Mississippi. Since 1937 the protection has ensured the swamp remains largely unspoiled. “One of the coolest things about the Okefenokee is that it’s basically an intact ecosystem,” said Refuge Manager Michael Lusk, noting that the Everglades, while larger, had been ditched and drained. And while there once was logging in some parts of the Okefenokee, the swamp has been protected for more than 80 years. “What we have now is a large intact, functioning ecosystem and that is so rare, especially in the eastern U.S.”

Water Trails and Recreation

Today, 600,000 people visit each year to discover its amazing landscapes—including peat beds, island prairies, and cypress forests—and wildlife like American alligators, sandhill cranes, indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. National Geographic named the Swamp one of the 100 most beautiful places on the planet. In 2015, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia was also identified as one of the top 10 canoe trips in the world by Green Global Travel.

The refuge is part of the National Water Trail System, one of only 21 designated trails in the U.S., in part because it requires an act of Congress. The Okefenokee and the Suwannee River both have water trails that are part of Georgia River Network’s Water Trail System. The St. Mary’s trail is under development. To learn more about Georgia Water Trails, click here.

The swamp was formed 6500 years ago. The mining operation will last 8 years. As former Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbit once said “titanium is a common mineral while the Okefenokee is a very uncommon swamp.”

Water Trail to Minnies Lake

Photo by Tom Wilson

Okefenokee Trail Ridge Mining Site & Regional Water Trails

Georgia River Network – Okefenokee Swamp PowerPoint Presentation

GRN is a Member of the Okefenokee Protection Alliance

Okefenokee Protection Alliance
The Okefenokee Protection Alliance is a coalition of more than 30 conservation organizations representing millions of members that have joined forces to save the swamp from the proposed Twin Pines Minerals, LLC titanium mine and other threats that jeopardize the integrity of the Okefenokee Swamp. Learn more at

Save the Swamp Campaign – We want your swamp stories!

Okefenokee Protection Alliance
The Okefenokee Swamp has been the scene of countless adventures and awe-inspiring encounters with nature and as this national treasure faces the threat of a mining operation near its tea-colored waters, Georgia River Network wants your stories, photographs and videos that illustrate the importance of protecting the largest blackwater swamp in the U.S. Send your photographs, videos and stories to Together, we can SAVE THE SWAMP.

Letters to the Editor

Read the Letter to the Editor by Rena Peck Stricker in the Savannah Morning News.

Op Eds

November 30, 2021. “Open Letter from the Science Community: Proposed Mining Near the Okefenokee”

Latest News Articles

August 23, 2022. Georgia Recorder. “Fate of mine at Okefenokee Swamp’s edge could soon be cemented by Georgia EPD

July 28, 2022. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “5 Things to Know About the Okefenokee Swamp”

July 28, 2022. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Okefenokee Swamp Lures You In With It’s Peaceful, Haunting Beauty”

July 21, 2022. NPR. “Muscogee Nationgets a say in management of Georgia’s Okefenokee wildlife refuge”

June 15, 2022. Georgia Recorder. “Will confirmation of suspected tribal burial grounds end Okefenokee mine for good?”

June 13, 2022. The Georgia Sun. “Georgia suspends applications for titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp”

June 9, 2022. Saporta Report. “Federal government gets involved with mining proposals near Okefenokee Swamp, making approval less likely”

June 9, 2022. Capitol Beat.  “State suspending permit applications for titanium mine near Okfenokee Swamp”

June 7, 2022. Valdosta Today. “Army Corps blocks strip mine near Okefenokee”

June 7, 2022. Hatch Magazine. “Okefenokee mine permit revoked by Army Corps”

June 7, 2022. Savannah Morning News. “Twin Pines Minerals Set to Reapply for Mining Permit Near Okefenokee Swamp”

June 6, 2022. Fox 31. “Protection for the Okefenokee Swamp has been restored”

June 6, 2022. WABE. “Why the Muscogee (Creek) Nation gets a say on the Okefenokee mine proposal”

June 6, 2022. GPB. “Feds Dealt Major Setback to Proposed Mine Near Okefenokee”

June 6, 2022. GPB. “U.S. Army Corps Revokes Approval of Mining Near Okefenokee”

June 6, 2022. Capitol Beat. “U.S. Army Corps Throws Roadblock at Proposed Titanium Mine Near Okefenokee Swamp”

June 6, 2022. E&E News. “Army Corps deals blow to Ga. titanium mine, reverses Trump move”

June 6, 2022. The Wild Hunt. “Feds Restore Jurisdiction Over Okefenokee Mining Proposal”

June 5, 2022. The Washington Post. “Agency Ruling Delivers Big Setback to Okefenokee Mining Plan”

June 4, 2022. AP. “Agency Ruling Delivers Big Setback to Okefenokee Mining Plan”

June 4, 2022. The Current Georgia. “U.S. Army Corps Revokes Approval  of Mining Near Okefenokee”

June 4, 2022. Georgia Recorder. “Feds Intervene iin Proposed Mining Project Near Okefenokee Swamp, Citing Lack of Input from Tribal Community”

June 4, 2022. “Ossoff Hails ‘Restored Protection’ of Okefenokee After Feds Resume Oversight of Mining Plan”

June 4, 2022. Savannah Morning News. “Army Corps Blocks Mine Near Okefenokee, Cites Failure to Consult Muscogee Creek Nation”

June 4, 2022. Florida Times-Union. “Army Corps blocks mine near Okefenokee, cites failure to consult Muscogee Creek Nation”

June 3, 2022. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Okefenokee Mine Project Dealt Major Blow by Army Corps of Engineers”

May 31, 2022. Thomasville Times Enterprise. “Taylor Honored for Evironmental Legislative Leadership”

May 30, 2022. Saporta Report. “The Okefenokee Experience: A tri-county effort to boost ecotourism around the swamp”

May 25, 2022. Fox31. “Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp”