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Let me introduce you by Georgene Brazer: Let us value and preserve the Okenfenokee
Georgene Brazer
Georgene Brazer

In March of 2022 I wrote an article about state lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, who worked together to protect this incredible habitat, speaking for us to “Save the Swamp, Stop the Mine”. The mining would cause irreversible damage, destroying over 370 acres of precious wetlands.

Work has been done for years to protect the site. Since 2007, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has been under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status. This tribute will help protect the Okefenokee from mining, development and climate change that would be caused by titanium mining near the swamp, reducing water levels that will harm wildlife. If the peat of the swamp is no longer submerged, it can be broken down faster, becoming a huge source of CO2 emissions. Emissions would increase if the dried-out peat burns in a wildfire. This peat could burn for months, disappearing, causing irreversible damage. Attaining this status has far reaching benefits, including heightened conservation efforts, increased tourism, expanded federal funding opportunities and enhanced international safeguards for our prominent Georgia landmark. This distinction would place, align, the Okefenokee with its rich natural history and beauty in the same breath as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Everglades, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Having this status in no way loses the autonomy or decision-making authority of the Refuge. World Heritage Status has never altered the dominion of a site and the United Nations would have no authority over our beloved swamp.

All of this is well recognized by our Congressman, Buddy Carter, who has begun another important phase of protection by supporting the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge’s bid for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status in Congress.

While the status does not directly affect mining, it is an important step forward and win for our district. Securing this status brings significant advantages. This would add the Swamp to an international list of wonders of the world, bringing tourists and economic interest from around the world, benefiting local businesses, residents and our wonderful coastal Georgia for this prestigious distinction.

Thank you, Congressman, for the way you take care of “we the people” and for being a true spokesman for our wonderful part of this great state. The advantages of achieving World Heritage Site status are abundant. In essence, this designation would be a triumph for small businesses, conservation efforts, the State of Georgia, and taxpayers. You have taken this proactive stance needed by introducing the resolution supporting this designation in Congress to create a win for all Georgians and by helping the effort to preserve this natural wonder for generations to come.

The author Janisse Ray called the Okefenokee “a gigantic, ethereal, godtouched swamp in southeast Georgia that’s like no other place on earth”.

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