In the 1990s, however, Okefenokee Swamp faced a new threat. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company had purchased 16,000 acres adjacent to the swamp with the intent to mine the land for titanium dioxide. Concerned about the impact on the region’s water supply and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the environmental community expressed their opposition for the proposed mine. DuPont eventually agreed to discontinue its plans for a mine, but how could this land be protected from being mined in the future?

Biggest Land Donation in Georgia’s History

In 2003, DuPont donated all 16,000 acres to The Conservation Fund. International Paper, who at the time owned the property’s timber and recreational rights, agreed to permanently relinquish its acquisition rights, which prevents mining of the property in the future. The Fund in 2005 transferred nearly 7,000 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an addition to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and donated a conservation easement on that portion of the property to Georgia Wildlife Federation, furthering its protection. The Fund plans to transfer the remaining DuPont lands to the Refuge in the future.

Alligator in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge wilderness, GA. Photo by Stacy Shelton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Alligator in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge wilderness, GA. Photo by Stacy Shelton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.DuPont previously worked with The Conservation Fund to establish a new state forest in North Carolina. Through its Land Legacy Program, which places company land into permanently protected status, DuPont donated 7,700 acres to the Fund which was subsequently transferred to the state for the creation of what is now DuPont State Forest.

Why This Project Matters

An area so rich in natural resources is bound to attract activities that could potentially cause it harm. This project demonstrates how we strive to find positive outcomes that benefit all parties and balance economic and environmental objectives. By working with—not against—corporations, we are advancing sustainable growth and social responsibility. The buying and selling of property rights through conservation easements can be effective conservation tools for this area in the future. Permanently restricting what types of activities can or cannot occur on the land protects the land at a fraction of the cost of buying the land, and allows it to be privately owned.

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