For Immediate Release, September 16, 2021

Contact:

Rena Peck, Georgia River Network, (404) 395-6250, rena@garivers.org
Elise Bennett, Center for Biological Diversity, (727) 755-6950, ebennett@biologicaldiversity.org

Mobile Billboard to Be Launched Friday in Atlanta to Spotlight Proposed Mine’s Threat to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

ATLANTA— A mobile video billboard urging Georgians to help save the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from a proposed mine will begin a three-day tour of Atlanta on Friday.

The billboard displays a 43-second video featuring the swamp’s plants and wildlife, including the black bear and barred owl. It encourages supporters to text “SWAMP” to 52886 to send a letter to Georgia officials asking them to protect the Okefenokee and deny permits for the mine. The message will also be featured on jumbotrons at the Midtown Music Festival at Piedmont Park on Saturday evening.

The billboard responds to a mining company’s application to Georgia environmental officials for permits to mine for titanium adjacent to the swamp, a move that hydrologists and federal experts have warned could permanently destroy the Okefenokee’s delicate hydrology and harm rare wildlife. To date more than 100,000 letters opposing the mine have been submitted to federal and state officials.

“Twenty years ago, Gov. Zell Miller said ‘no’ to titanium mining next to the Okefenokee wilderness,” said Rena Peck, executive director of Georgia River Network. “Now it’s Gov. Kemp’s turn to say ‘not on my watch’ and stop the threat of mining draining the largest blackwater wetland in North America.”

The mining company avoided detailed federal environmental review by relying on the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which removed federal wetland protections for the mine site. That decision kicked the mine approval to Georgia officials. Earlier this year a federal district court vacated the Trump rule, leaving the mining project vulnerable.

Spanning more than 400,000 acres, the Okefenokee is one of the largest, substantially intact freshwater swamps in the world. The majority of the swamp is protected within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and wilderness area.

“The Okefenokee is the wild heart of Georgia,” said Elise Bennett, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Its pristine waters are home to a remarkable diversity of plants and animals and provide the opportunity for adventure in a place where you can still hear the crickets sing and see the stars at night. We can’t risk pulling the plug on this vital place, and we hope the billboard will inspire others who love this beautiful spot to speak out now.”

What: Protect Okefenokee mobile billboard

When: The mobile billboard will run Friday morning, Saturday evening and Sunday evening. The billboard, as well as staffers of conservation groups supporting the campaign, will be available to media at 10 a.m. Friday in front of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division building located at 2 M.L.K. Jr. Dr. SW, across from Liberty Plaza.

Locations and timing of mobile billboard: On Friday, after an hour-long stop in downtown Atlanta front of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, (2 M.L.K. Jr. Dr. SW), it will circle the state capitol building until noon.

Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Around Piedmont Park and surrounding area in Midtown.

Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., – Kirkwood, Edgewood and Little Five Points neighborhoods.

Who will be available for interviews: Georgia River Network executive director Rena Peck and Center senior attorney Elise Bennett will be available at the 10 a.m. Friday morning stop.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.