Okefeenokee Protection Alliance Honored As Refuge Advocate Of The Year For 2024 — The National Wildlife Refuge Association


WASHINGTON, D.C. – JUNE 13TH, 2024 – The Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA) has been named the 2024 Refuge Advocate of the Year by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. This award recognizes OPA’s extraordinary accomplishments in protecting the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia from the threat of mining operations and their unwavering commitment to conservation.

The Refuge Advocate of the Year Award honors individuals or groups that have made significant contributions to the National Wildlife Refuge System and acknowledges impactful advocacy efforts protecting refuges from external forces. The 2024 Wildlife Refuge Awards celebration and ceremony will be held on Wednesday, September 18th at 5:30 pm at the prestigious Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Media coverage of this event is highly encouraged.

“Since its inception, the Okefenokee Protection Alliance has been at the forefront of efforts to safeguard the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from the devastating impacts of proposed mining operations,” said Geoffrey L. Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Their relentless advocacy, innovative public engagement strategies, and collaboration with diverse stakeholders have been instrumental in raising awareness and significantly challenging the mining threat.”

The Okefenokee Protection Alliance was formed in response to a proposed titanium dioxide sand mining operation by Twin Pines Minerals, which posed a significant threat to the refuge’s hydrology and wildlife habitats. OPA’s accomplishments include:

  • Advocacy & Public Support: OPA has spearheaded efforts to rally public support against the mining threat, resulting in nearly 100,000 public comments submitted to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division during the initial comment period. This unprecedented level of public engagement has raised significant awareness about the mining threat.

  • Innovative Public Engagement: OPA produced the documentary “Sacred Waters: The Okefenokee in Peril,” which has been shown across Georgia and the Southeast, educating the public about the potential impacts of the proposed mining. The documentary has also been featured in national and international film festivals, further amplifying the message.

  • Collaborative Efforts: OPA has successfully united over 40 conservation organizations, creating a powerful coalition that collectively advocates for the protection of the Okefenokee. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in securing resolutions of support from 14 cities and counties in Georgia, representing over 1.1 million residents.

  • Reducing The Threat: OPA’s persistent advocacy and public pressure have led to a substantial reduction in the proposed mine’s footprint from 2,414 acres to 586 acres. While the threat has not been completely eliminated, the reduced footprint and heightened public scrutiny have significantly mitigated the potential impact.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association has been actively involved with OPA from the onset of the mining threat. The Association has worked alongside OPA to protect Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and remains committed to stopping the mining threat to ensure the refuge’s conservation.

The Okefenokee Protection Alliance exemplifies the power of grassroots advocacy and collaboration. Their dedication to protecting the Okefenokee is an inspiration to conservationists everywhere, and their success demonstrates what can be achieved through persistent and united efforts.

Join us in celebrating the outstanding achievements of the Okefenokee Protection Alliance at the 2024 Wildlife Refuge Awards.


The National Wildlife Refuge Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, promoting, and enhancing the 850-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s largest network of lands and waters set aside for wildlife conservation.

For all media inquiries and questions, please contact Eden Taylor, Communications Manager at etaylor@refugeassociation.org.


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