|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 1998
|Maggie O'Connell 912) 496-7366, Ext. 232Vicki M. Boatwright (404) 679-7287|
DUPONT REQUEST TO RENEW HYDROLOGIC STUDIES
ON OKEFENOKEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has renewed a permit allowing E. I. du Pont de
Nemours and Company to resume monitoring of water levels, quality, and flows on the
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia. At the same time, the
Services strongly reiterates its continuing opposition to the company's plan to develop a
titanium surface mine along Trail Ridge on the refuge's eastern boundary.
DuPont abruptly suspended its activities on the refuge in April, 1997, following a
public statement by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt vigorously opposing the
proposed mine in this ecologically sensitive area because of the detrimental hydrological
alterations, wetlands destruction, water and air quality degradation, and negative
endangered species and aesthetic impacts that would likely result.
In agreeing to DuPont's request for the permit renewal, the Service's Southeast Regional Director, Sam D. Hamilton, said, "We've renewed this permit because it is our responsibility to treat DuPont as we would any other public entity. I want to make it very clear, however, that the Service remains opposed to mining along Okefenokee's eastern boundary. Data from this or any other study will not alter our opposition to mining activities next to the refuge."
"The Service is obligated to protect the priceless natural resources of the
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and to provide protection to wetlands and federally
listed species on Trail Ridge. Because of the complexity of this area's hydrogeologic
system, it is our judgment that the mining project will impact the Okefenokee Swamp and
the St. Mary's and Suwannee rivers. Considering the uniqueness of this vast wilderness and
its scientific, historic and aesthetic important importance to scientists and visitors
from around the world, the Service considers the proposed titanium mine to be an
inappropriate neighbor to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. We will not agree to
any activity that compromises the health and integrity of the Okefenokee Swamp."
Under the renewed permit, DuPont will be allowed minimal water monitoring on the
refuge. A proposal by DuPont to survey wildlife, soils and vegetation within the refuge
was turned down because of the lack of a detailed study proposal and well-stated purposes
for these surveys.
Research activities on National Wildlife Refuges require an annual submission of a
study proposal for review by the Service. Permits may be refused or revoked because of a
determination of incompatibility with the purposes of the refuge or unsatisfactory
compliance with the conditions of the permit. Issuance of a permit does not imply Service
agreement with the purposes or conclusions of the research.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for
conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the
continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages 511 national wildlife
refuges covering 92 million acres, as well as 65 national fish hatcheries.
The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as
wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes Federal
excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies. This program is
a cornerstone of the Nation's wildlife management efforts, funding fish and wildlife
restoration, boating access, hunter education, shooting ranges, and related projects
Release #: R98-012
1998 News Releases