Thanks in large part to the bipartisan efforts of U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia will soon be nominated by the U.S. National Park Service as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 400,000 acre Okefenokee is one of the world’s last intact blackwater swamps and is the largest national wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi River. If approved it would join iconic landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and help drive tourism and attention to the swamp. It would not, however, outright impact the ongoing struggle between conservationists and miners from Alabama-based Twin Pines who have been attempting for years to get approval to open a titanium dioxide mine about three miles from the Okefenokee’s borders. Critics have said the mine could negatively affect the swamp’s ability to hold water and damage the ecosystem, and say they hope being recognized as a UNESCO site might urge lawmakers to take further steps to protect it from industrialization.
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