Okefenokee

Swamp Love, Redux

migratory bird route in cape may, nj © pam lazos

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Area — a giant peat boggy swamp listed on the Ramsar Site of wetlands of particular ecological importance — is a swath of swamp approximately 438,000 acres in size and one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in the world.   It is second only to the Atchafalaya Basin near Simmesport, Louisiana which, at almost one million acres, is the largest river swamp in the U.S.

Bald cypress, swamp tupelo, longleaf pine, bobcats, wild turkey and white-tailed deer and alligators galore inhabit this enormous drainage basin that straddles the divide between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico draining from headwaters of the Suwannee (Gulf of Mexico) and the St. Marys (Atlantic Ocean) Rivers.  Threatened and endangered species include the red cockaded woodpecker, wood storks and indigo snakes.

The Okefenokee was added to the Ramsar list on December 18, 1986.

Back in 1997, the Okefenokee has been under threat from Dupont’s proposal to begin a 50-year titanium mining operation.  The proposal caved under public pressure and Dupont gave in and donated the 16,000 acres it would have mined

Yet the lure of lucrative minerals remained strong.  In 2018, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC tried again but the company didn’t comprehend the size and strength of public opposition to its proposition in the form of 60,000 written comments.

turtles resting in sunlight © pam lazos

Sadly, during the Trump administration, the Clean Water Act came under fire with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule which rolled back protections for wetlands generally outside of some stringent conditions like adjacency to waterways which meant the Army Corps of Engineers, the arm of the federal government tasked with issuing permits for wetlands development, would no longer make the decision, punting any permitting questions for the Okefenokee to Georgia regulators.

Enter the Georgia General Assembly and H.B. 1289.

Last week, this impossibly fertile and infinitely important landmark got a boost from state lawmakers in the form of H.B.  1289 —  a bill introduced by five Republicans and one Democrat for those of us who think there is no bipartisanship left in the world — to protect the Okefenokee from mining.

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Part 3 of Article 2 of Chapter 4 of Title 12 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to surface mining, so as to prohibit the director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Natural Resources Department from issuing, modifying, or renewing any permit or accepting any bond to conduct surface mining operations on the geological feature known as Trail Ridge between the St. Marys and Satilla Rivers for future permit applications and amendments; to provide for legislative findings; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

The Okefenokee also makes bank. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service estimates that for every dollar the state appropriates, the Okefenokee brings in $1.38 and that doesn’t count the myriad ways the swamp improves society and the environment. 

Fingers crossed the bill becomes law and the Okefenokee is protected in perpetuity. 

resting frog waiting for a decision © pam lazos

Just when I was starting to lose faith in humanity, something like this happens — politicians from opposite sides of the aisle coming together to save a world-class ecological site.

Game not over yet.  Just wow.

2.21.22 pam lazos

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
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42 Responses to Okefenokee

  1. I really hope the legislation goes through. We’re destroying the planet for our greed. If only each of us would stay closer to our needs, and stop there. Thanks for sharing this ray of hope, Pam.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – some parts of the world are in major turmoil … I remember watching a stinking Russian warship spewing black smoke as it went down the English Channel towards Syria – when that was going on – and now seeing the filth being created in Eastern Russia outside Ukraine, and as of today the red-blood of humanity … so so sad. However ,re the Louisiana Swamp – I sure hope the bill gets through asap. Not a good day – but I’m fine … all the best Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Hilary, I’m so sorry for you and the entire continent of Europe. This is inane behavior on Russia’s part and I can’t believe we’re in this mess. Keep thinking good thoughts and hoping for the highest possible outcome. What else can we do?♥️❤️💕

      Like

  3. theburningheart says:

    I do not what to say? Greed seems to be unstoppable, hopefully they will not get away with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. TanGental says:

    Not sure if you can play this. It’s a BBC podcast. If you can you may find it fascinating.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00081t7

    Liked by 2 people

  5. KDKH says:

    I hope it goes through!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have almost zero respect for Republicans. But I guess that once in a blue moon they act properly.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Resa says:

    They better not ruin this special place.
    It always comes down to money, corporate greed and money.
    Even if it gets to be protected in perpetuity, another trump could come along & change all that.
    Love the frog shot, Pam!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Willow Croft says:

    I love swamp ecosystems…that’s what I grew up with. Fingers and toes crossed…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I HOPE So, Lady Pam. Truly. Agree with mari’s comment above. It is all greed.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Pam, my fingers are crossed that the bill H.B. 1289 will be passed. So glad to know that our lawmakers on opposing sides can get together to pass vital legislation. The face of that resting frog says it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. lampmagician says:

    You know what? Thank goodness that there’s always a opposition excited! 🤪🥰❤️🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  12. MariHoward says:

    Lovely place… I see from your remarks about the Trump administration that our Boris Johnson & his minsters are indeed following in the steps of Trump – axing or attempting to axe everything which matters from our National Health Service to precious sites for nature and wildlife. These guys are real wreckers and short-term thinkers – profit today and no tomorrow! And there are far too many of them leading countries all over the world now… glad something is being proposed to put right one tiny thing in Georgia! Let us hope…

    Liked by 2 people

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