Leonardo DiCaprio urges action to protect Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

CHARLTON COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp is considered one of the world’s most unique environments.

A mining company from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, is lobbying to mine for titanium dioxide at a location roughly three miles from the federally protected wildlife refuge.

While lawmakers did not come to a decision on how to proceed in the legislature, Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio took to Instagram on Friday afternoon to urge action in Georgia to protect the Okefenokee Swamp.

“Help save one of the most significant wetlands on Earth from an 8,000-acre strip mine,” his post reads in part. “The Okefenokee Swamp’s National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia was created to protect native wildlife and the ethereal rivers that wind through its 400-year-old cypress forests. This landscape is home to Bald Eagles, Eastern Indigo Snakes, Bobcats, Gopher Tortoises, Black Bears and over 13,000 American Alligators.”

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The Oscar-winning actor is urging protection for the swamp due to what he says is a risk for the water levels and “critical biodiversity,” which he believes will be threatened by the mining nearby.

While DiCaprio’s post says the mine is planned for 8,000 acres, Twin Pines said they only plan to mine about 580.

“Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has applied for permits for the purpose of extracting titanium and zirconium from a tract of land, that at is closest point is approximately 2.9 miles southeast of the Okefenokee Refuge. However, we will mine only 582 acres, and at any given time excavate in a very small section of the property (1.5 to 2.5 acres) to a maximum depth of 50 feet, advancing 100 feet per day,” the company said in a statement online.

However, it is correct that the original plan for the mining area from Twin Pines had proposed mining 12,000 acres, according to the company.


That said, the company does currently own about 8,000 acres on Trail Ridge, which is a natural barrier protecting the swamp’s water as well as the Saint Marys River, as reported by Channel 2 Action News.

To help save the Okefenokee Swamp, DiCaprio is asking people to sign a petition alongside the Southern Environmental Law Center, urging local regulators to reconsider allowing the mining effort due to its threat to the Okefenokee Swamp ecosystems.

In February, Channel 2′s Bryan Mims traveled down to the swamp to learn more about the wildlife refuge as debates across Georgia heated up ahead of a mining effort set to begin nearby.

The materials, if they begin mining, would be used as a whitening agent for items like sunscreen, toothpaste and paint, among others.

In a statement provided by Twin Pines to Channel 2 Action News previously, the company said they’ve spent millions of dollars to ensure the environment isn’t harmed.

“Twin Pines has spent tens of millions of dollars to prove their mining process will not harm the Okefenokee or surrounding environs. The draft permits are validation that the science has been accepted by EPD,” Twin Pines president Steve Ingle said in February.

In opposition to the mining plan, the SELC said “the Okefenokee provides critical habitat for hundreds of species and a substantial economic benefit to the local community,” and is continuing to urge Georgians to protect the swamp.

The deadline for public comment on the mining effort is Tuesday, April 9, according to the Georgia DNR. The public comment was a 60-day period beginning on Feb. 9, according to state officials.

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