Tag Archives: Okefenokee Swamp

Comments: 20,338 on titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –USACE 2019-09-12

If this and the 27 news articles on radio, TV, and newspapers in Georgia and Florida, several of them carried by Associated Press across the country, plus the ten op-eds and three editorials, is not enough to establish controversy, I wonder what is. Maybe still more comments and news articles and social media?

[Public Notice: 20,338 comments]
Public Notice: 20,338 comments
PDF

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 September 2019, Mining proposal near Okefenokee draws more than 20K comments from public

The Suwannee Riverkeeper, on Thursday, sent 22 pages of questions to the Corps and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection asking the agency to deny the permit. The Riverkeeper joined the SELC and other organizations and individuals in asking the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the highest level of analysis available when a proposed federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

Also in that AJC story:

Commenters expressed concerns ranging from the acres of wetlands that would be lost to what they considered inadequate studies conducted to determine the potential impact of the mine.

In a letter to the Corps, the Southern Environmental Law Center said Continue reading

Deny or EIS, titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2019-09-12

Sent just now as PDF. You can still send in your comments today.

[Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?]
Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine? PDF


September 12, 2019

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
       Attention: Ms. Holly Ross,  holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil
       1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia  31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
       Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
       Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks USACE:

  • to reject the subject Application from Twin Pines Minerals (TPM), given the inappropriate location which would over the years move ever closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, combined with the numerous omissions from the Application regarding the wide hydrogeologic, water quality, ecologic, and economic ramifications of the proposed mining, and the numerous other mines relevant to the proposal.

If USACE continues to process the Application, WWALS requests USACE:

  • to require a complete hydrogeological assessment and report, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and an economic analysis, with all three covering all the relevant features, mines, and applications in south Georgia and north Florida, including at least those outlined in this letter.
  • to accept comments until at least ninety days after all these documents are submitted to USACE and distributed to the public, preferably on USACE’s website, without requiring site visits to Albany to get them.
  • to hold public hearings in Georgia and Florida for further independent input and review after sufficient time (months or years) for independent third-party review.

The proposed Charlton County, Georgia, TPM mine site is hydraulically upgradient from the Okefenokee Swamp and within close proximity to the boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), with its 600,000 visits per year for boating, birding, and fishing, with more than $60 million annual economic effects including hundreds of jobs supported directly or indirectly, plus hunt clubs surrounding the Swamp. The Swamp provides ecosystem services of great economic values, including storm protection, water quality provisioning, support for nursery and habitat for commercial fishing species; and carbon storage, plus those hunt clubs depend on the Swamp. Any pollution of the Swamp or change in surface or groundwater levels could adversely affect not only ONWR and nearby areas, but also the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) near Waycross, in Ware County, GA, and Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP) in Charlton County, via Fargo in Clinch County. Visitors come from Jacksonville, Florida, Brunswick and Valdosta, Georgia, and from much farther away to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. The Swamp is a treasure to the entire nation and the world.

The stigma of a strip mine next to the swamp could cause people to turn away, taking their dollars with them. Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?

Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Need EIS, public hearings –Okefenokee Swamp Park to USACE about titanium mine 2019-08-22

Excellent comments from Okefenokee Swamp Park, requesting at least three public hearings by the Army Corps, plus independent research, in addition to a full Environmental Impact Statement. When I received them from Dr. Clark last night, he asked me to circulate them widely; see also PDF.

[About OSP]
About OSP

Continue reading

Okefenokee overflight with GA Rep. John Corbett 2019-08-24

Flying over the affected area appears to have made at least one elected official think harder about whether the supposed titanium mining jobs could be more important than the effects on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, both its economic importance and the potential environmental detriments to the swamp, to the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and to the Floridan Aquifer. You can still write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for denial or at least an Environmental Impact Statement.

Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News, 28 August 2019, Getting the aerial perspective on a titanium mining project,

[WC6170, 22:40:34]
Photo: Jim Tatum, of the Chemours North Maxville Mine, Baker County, Florida. This is the mine pictured in the Brunswick News article.

…The mining company Twin Pines Minerals, LLC [(TPM)], said it plans to employ 150 people, but [Georgia State Representative John] Corbett acknowledged most of the employees will not come from Charlton County.

Corbett went on a two-hour flight Saturday Continue reading

Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Valdosta, Georgia, August 25, 2019 — Everybody had a good time before plaques were awarded for Best in each Genre, from Folk to Funk, at the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, before two finalists won the money prizes, at the Salty Snapper in Valdosta, Saturday afternoon.

Jay Jourden of Ponte Vedra, Florida, swept the awards, winning Best Newgrass Bluegrass, and $50 for Best Song from Outside the Suwannee River Basin, and the $300 First Prize, all for “Save Our Suwannee.” Jay promised to submit a new song next year, before he played it again for the very happy audience.

[Jay Jourden Winning]
Jay Jourden Winning

“Yes, Jay submitted the same song last year,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “But this time he stopped in the middle, said he forgot some verses, and rattled off names of a whole bunch of rivers, all in perfect time. Naming rivers was one of the criteria, and it’s a great song: Save Our Suwannee!”

Dick Grillo of Live Oak, Florida, won both Best Folk/Country, and $50 for Best Song from Inside the Suwannee River Basin, for “Dear ‘Ol Suwannee,” and his cheering section demonstrated it was the loudest. Continue reading

Bring pictures of people, animals, plants, and mining to Charlton County

Please bring pictures (not costumes) and stories of people to the miners meetings this week in Charlton County, Georgia, about the proposed Twin Pines Minerals titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee Swamp on Trail Ridge.

Little gator on the shore, 09:43:42,, Starting
Little gator on the shore, 2017-12-10.

Here are some types of pictures that would be good:

  • People fishing, paddling, hiking, birding.
  • People holding binoculars and gazing through high-powered spotting scopes and telephone lenses.
  • People just looking at gorgeous landscapes of swamps and trees and animals: cypress, longleaf, gators, bitterns, sand hill cranes, gophers, bears, and all the others.
  • People hunting the waterfowl that fly from their Okefenokee habitat to hunting seasons elsewhere.
  • All the types of folks who make up the hundreds of thousands who visit the swamp or benefit from it every year, spending the million of dollars and generating the tens of millions of economic effects every year, in a stable and economic fashion.

Bring pictures of other titanium mines and the areas surrounding them to show what this area and around it would look like with such extractive misuse.

[Closeup]
Closeup of Chemours mine dredging in Baker County, Florida, on Trail Ridge, viewed from CR 228. More pictures on the WWALS website.

No costumes, just pictures, signs, stories, and handouts.

A few people are proposing this mine to extract profit at everyone else’s expense, threatening all those things people care about in the swamp and the rivers.

Many people involved all these ways with the Okefenokee and the rivers can stop the mine. Continue reading

Finalists selected for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019-08-24

These are the seven Finalists who will play live at the Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 1-5 PM, Saturday, August 24, 2019, for you and the Judges to hear, so the Judges can select the winners, at The Salty Snapper in Valdosta, GA.

“We got another awesome line up. Glad I’m not a judge,” said Sara Squires Jones, one of the Committee that selected the Finalists.

[2019-06-23]
You’ll have to wait until the Contest to see the finalists, so here’s a picture of the Committee that picked the Finalists: l-r, Tom H. Johnson Jr., Laura D’Alisera, Scotti Jay (Chair), Sara Squires Jay, Mary Carolyn Pindar, Eileen Box, John S. Quarterman

In the order we received their songs, with what they wrote about themselves: Continue reading

Animals opposing titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-08-13-14

Update 2019-08-11: What to bring: pictures and signs (not costumes).

Come early to see the animals assembling on the sidewalk before the miners’ public meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Folkston and St. George, Georgia. Think of it as Early Okefenokee Halloween!

Alligator

You can bring an animal costume picture and help oppose the mine, also by distributing information outside and asking questions inside. There will be reporters from near and far.

Locals especially please come to the Charlton County Commission meeting Thursday, but no demonstration there, please, just listen and speak. Continue reading

Charlton County Herald on proposed titanium mine near Okefenokee Refuge 2019-07-23

The local newspaper discovered another discrepancy between what the Army Corps announced and what the mining company is saying.

Marla Ogletree, Charlton County Herald, 23 July 2019, Twin Pines seeks permit for heavy mineral mining in Okefenokee area.

[Trail Ridge Land LLC]
Trail Ridge Land LLC

The story notes the Public Notice says Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is asking to mine 12,000 acres near the world-famous Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. But Steven Ingle with TPM told the newspaper TPM only owns about 9,000 acres, and they would disturb only part of that.

The story has further discussion about TPM’s claims of low impact. Then:

“Based on the amount of permanent damage, the mining could still [a]ffect the top soil for planting trees, which could then cause issues for natural habitats,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Endangered animals, such as Continue reading