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Opinion: State legislation could allow serious harm to Okefenokee
Georgia's state Capitol in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

The clock is ticking for the Okefenokee Swamp. With Twin Pines Minerals lobbying hard to create their proposed titanium mine, now is the critical time to take the necessary steps to protect the swamp. Its fate rests in the hands of our state decision-makers.

Twin Pines is using a common term called the “foot-in-the-door phenomenon” to lull the public and Georgia regulators into thinking the mine will be a minute 740 acres, when in reality they plan to mine up to 8,000 acres.

In one Atlanta Journal Constitution article called “After federal ruling, Okefenokee mine’s fate still left to Georgia agency” the president of Twin Pines, Steve Ingle, is quoted as stating that his two models produced to assess the impacts of the mine indicated a “negligible impact.” His statement is meaningless because a negligible impact to him may not be negligible to the visitors, the wildlife and the citizens of Georgia. 

Twin Pines has completely failed to prove that they will do no harm. Meanwhile, over 40 esteemed and independent scientists across America have expressed their deep concern for the swamp’s welfare should this misguided project proceed.

Protecting the swamp is vital because it is a beautiful, peaceful place for many individuals. It hosts over 600 species of plants, 40 mammals, 50 reptiles, 60 amphibians and 200 species of birds, including threatened and endangered species.

The Okefenokee Swamp is also a driving force in the Georgia economy, providing over 700 jobs and bringing $64 million annually for the surrounding communities. The swamp sees over 600,000 visitors per year and is much more economically viable than Twin Pines’ mine, which is projected to offer somewhere between 120-400 jobs — at best.

Allowing Twin Pines to harm a natural wonder that is considered a potential United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site would be an everlasting black mark on Georgia’s national and global reputation. 

I call on your leadership to listen to the people and protect an area that we all love and value, right here in our home state.

Heather West