Saving the Okefenokee with new song at Mardi Gras party

By David Pendered

Jan. 30 – Michelle Malone’s performance of the song “Okefenokee” is one of the highlights of the Save the Swamp Mardi Gras Party, a fundraiser to be hosted on Feb. 13 in North Buckhead by the Georgia River Network.

Lyrics of “Okefenokee” are provided at the end of this story. They can be a bit difficult to locate. GRN Executive Director Rena Ann Peck provided the lyrics to the song she co-wrote with her fellow Georgia natives, Malone and Jim Woodcox.

The story behind the song is available in this story published by Rough Draft Atlanta, “’Okefenokee’ song released to raise awareness of mining threat.” Malone has posted a performance on her Spotify page.

Tickets to the event are $50 a person and sponsorships are available. The party is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Details are available here.

The Georgia River Network is hosting a Mardi Gras party to raise funds for its campaign to oppose mining near the Okefenokee Swamp. (Credit:

In addition to Malone’s performance, other highlights are Southern standards of a big party on Fat Tuesday, the last day before the start of the Christian observance of Lent. The agenda of fun includes:

The GRN has been fighting the mining proposal for nearly five years. To raise awareness, Peck has dressed in an alligator costume during visits to the Georgia Capitol during the legislative session and coordinated other attention-getting things, such as yard signs in Buckhead, which is some 250 miles from the swamp and home to influential residents. The GRN has crafted a full-scale description on a page of its website, “Protect the Okefenokee Swamp!

A ruling on a permit request filed is pending before the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division. Twin Pines Minerals LLC, the Alabama company that filed the permit to extract sand that contains titanium continues to submit materials requested by the state EPD. A ruling has been expected for any day now for more than a year.

The most recent filing on behalf of the Twin Pines applications is a noise analysis that was posted Jan. 26.

Among the findings submitted on behalf of the Twin Pines applications are that the noise level at the center of activity is projected to be equivalent to a lawn mower, at 80 decibels. At the edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the sound level is projected to be that of a library, 40 decibels. The analysis was conducted by the Montgomery, Ala. office of Jacobs, an engineering firm.

Here are the lyrics of the song:


By Rena Ann Peck, Michelle Malone, Jim Wilcox

Atlanta artist Michelle Malone is scheduled to perform ‘Okefenokee’ at the Mardi Gras fundraiser party for Georgia River Network. The song was written by GRN Executive Director Rena Ann Peck and fellow Georgians Michelle Malone, Jim Wilcox. (Credit: GRN)

A week in a canoe only a slice you’ll see

Paddling black water, gators eyeing me

Spanish moss in a tupelo tree

A bald cypress on wounded knee


Oh oh oh oh oh

Okefenokee (2x)


I was raised running barefoot on this old Trail Ridge

Picking wild rice and fishing is how we lived

My family’s home is sacred, cypress paradise 

Sometimes when I’m alone I scream into the night 


Oh oh oh oh oh

Okefenokee (2x)


If they mine for titanium 

They’ll steal the water from the swamp 

Oh oh Georgia’s wild heart 


The miners want to dig away the old beach sand

Where the water’s held back by Trail Ridge dam

Muscogee trail is sacred hunting grounds

Well the swampers still holler over Indian mounds


I can hear the sandhill cranes

I can see the stars


Oh oh oh oh oh


Oh oh oh oh oh




If they mine for titanium

They’ll destroy the swamp

Oh oh

Georgia’s wild heart


This may be the last time we do not know

his may be the last time I don’t know

This may be the last time I don’t know

This may be the last time we do not know


This may be the last time we do not know (3x)

(while louder war cry stanzas below overlap) 


Will we let them mine Trail Ridge?

Mining will destroy the swamp

Will we let them mine Trail Ridge?

Lily pads make their home in the Okefenokee Swamp. (Credit: GRN)