On January 19, 2023, Georgia Environmental Protection Division opened a 60-day public comment peiord seeking YOUR input on whether or not the state should issue a permit for a proposed heavy mineral sand mine on Trail Ridge 0 3 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp and 5 miles from the St. Marys River.
You can email your comments to Georgia EPD at email@example.com or by mail:
Land Protection Branch
4244 International Parkway, Atlanta Tradeport, Suite 104
Atlanta, GA 30354
Additionally, Georgia EPD is allowing comments through two scheduled virtual public meetings on February 21 and 23 at 6 PM EST. Please register for one of the two meetings HERE. Please not the capacity for each meeting is 1,000 people, and it is expected that they will both reach capacity.
For information on the Draft Plan, please visit https://epd.georgia.gov/twin-pines
Twin Pines Minerals is an Alabama-based company looking to mine along Trail Ridge, at the headwaters for River Styx (flows to the Okefenokee Swamp) and Boone Creek (flows to the St. Marys River). Mining along Trail Ridge could compromise the habitat the Swamp and the St. Marys River offers to endangered species like the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Wood Storks, Eastern Indigo Snakes, and the Atlantic Sturgeon.
A new federal regulation called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule went into effect June 22, 2020. The rule changed the way wetlands are defined in the Clean Water Act so that federal permits and environmental impact statements will no longer be needed before building near certain waterways. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ruled that because of this change, it lacked jurisdiction over 376 acres of land within the proposed mining site, so Twin Pines can proceed if the Georgia Environmental Protection Division approves five permits.
Parts of the refuge’s Trail Ridge are rich in titanium and other heavy minerals. In the past, attempts to mine there have failed due to concerns about the Okefenokee. Titanium is a strong, lightweight mineral used to build everything from missiles and jet planes to orthopedics and consumer electronics. The Georgia mine will use the titanium to make pigments that whiten cosmetics, paint and other consumer products.