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Letter to the editor: About the Okefenokee Swamp
Letter to the Editor generic

Dear Editor,

An Alabama‐based mining company is trying to establish the first phase of a titanium mine on Trail Ridge. This natural earthen ridge holds the waters of Okefenokee Swamp, like the rim of a giant basin. Forty‐three scientists, and counting, have spoken up about the impacts and drafted a summary letter of the underlying science.

Twin Pines has proposed a mine to extract heavy minerals in the vicinity of the Okefenokee Swamp. Permits for the mine are currently under review by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Twin Pines is obligated to report on the potential impacts of the mine and that it will do no harm to the swamp.

Twin Pines has hired consultants to investigate the impact of the proposed mine. As with any science, there are views on each side; however, the conclusions of the Twin Pines reports conflict with most of the published and peer‐reviewed work by hydrologists, geologists, and ecologists.

“We wanted to make sure the scientific facts are known about the impact of the proposed mine,” says Amy Sharma, Vice President of Science for Georgia. “One, the proposed mining has potential to cause great harm to the Okefenokee and the nearby communities. Two, there is no peer‐reviewed research stating otherwise.”

The most direct impact will be decreased water quality and loss of habitat, which will have a negative impact on health and economy of the surrounding communities.

This mine is a demonstration mine, which implies that more mining is planned. Continued mining along trail ridge will likely lower water levels. The result of lowered water levels in the swamp are an increase in fire risk to both the swamp and nearby farms, an increase in the release of toxic heavy metals into downstream rivers such as the St Mary’s and Suwannee, and a decrease in ecological habitats. A lowered swamp will impact the health and economies of nearby communities, which depend on tourism and recreation from visitors to Okefenokee.

The letter was drafted by scientists in multiple disciplines, and so far, it has been signed by 43 scientists, many of whom have worked in wetlands of the Atlantic coastal plain, including Okefenokee.

The full letter and signatures can be found here: https://sciencelookup. org/knowledge‐base1/ openletter‐from‐the‐science‐community‐ proposed‐mining‐near‐okefenokee‐ swamp/ Science for Georgia, Inc. Atlanta

Amy C. Sharma, PhD, Vice President Science for Georgia

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