Update on Okefenokee Swamp Ramsar site, Georgia, USA
THREAT OF DUPONT STRIP MINE STILL LOOMS OVER OKEFENOKEE SWAMP
(press release 5 September 2000 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service)
In 1994, the global chemical giant, DuPont, staked claim to 38,000 acres directly adjacent to the world renowned Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia, USA with plans to create a 30-mile long, 50-foot deep, titanium strip mine. From the proposals announcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, has fought to keep the project in the publics attention, stressing that such a strip mine could irrevocably alter the delicate hydrology and ecology of the swamp. Despite a highly publicized, yet unimplemented, $90 million no-mining buyout plan proposed by DuPont in early 1999 that would have used government funds to retire mineral rights and add lands to the refuge, no solutions to permanently remove the threat of the strip mine have come to fruition.
The Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, has stated that the cost of DuPonts no-mining proposal is grossly inflated and is an unfair burden to the American people. DuPont has indicated that mining is still possible if funding for the buyout is not forthcoming.
The Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service continue to believe that serious ecological impacts will result from the proposed DuPont strip mine and remain opposed to any mining adjacent to the Okefenokee. Potential impacts include alterations to ground and surface water quantities and flows, destruction of thousands of acres of wetlands, destruction of endangered species and their habitats, reduction of air and water quality, and degradation of the wilderness character of the swamp and the wilderness experience for refuge visitors. For more information about Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and DuPonts proposed strip mine visit http://okefenokee.fws.gov/. Please remain vigilant and informed about this paramount threat to one of the worlds most cherished wild places.