Rena Ann Peck

Rena Ann Peck

Credit: Courtesy Georgia River Network

“Okefenokee,” a new song recorded by Michelle Malone, hopes to raise awareness of the threat of mining to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 

Listen to the song in the music player below.


Georgia River Network executive director Rena Ann Peck, musician Michelle Malone and Jim Woodcox wrote “Okefenokee,” a rally to protect the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from proposed mining on Trail Ridge.

Credit: Georgia River Network

The song was written by Georgia River Network executive director Rena Ann Peck, Malone, and Jim Woodcox as a “war cry and rally cry” in response to a proposal to mine on Trail Ridge, an earthen dam that holds water in the Okefenokee Swamp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that mining on Trail Ridge would dewater wetlands inside the refuge.

In the coming weeks, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will determine whether or not to grant Twin Pines Minerals LLC a permit to mine titanium sands on Trail Ridge. 

“This is my war cry,” Peck said. “Singing it fortifies the fire in my heart to save the wild heart of Georgia, our Okefenokee Swamp.”

“Okefenokee” was written when Peck went to a songwriters course in France conducted by Malone. Together, Peck, Malone and Woodcox, all natives of Georgia, co-wrote “Okefenokee” with an eerie and mysterious feel of the swamp. 

“Rena’s heart for the Okefenokee brought out something inside my heart to cry out for protection of Georgia’s wild heart — the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,” Malone said. “As a native Georgia peach, my favorite music includes sounds of the South. Our song “Okefenokee” honors the homeland of many Georgians with influences from a Muscogee (Creek) hymn and African American spiritual with a swamp rock vibe.”

The National Park Service is nominating the Okefenokee to be recognized by the United Nations as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which will increase tourism to the largest blackwater swamp in the nation. Muscogee Nation Chief David Hill recently named Okefenokee’s Trail Ridge a sacred site.  

“The world values the Okefenokee, but will Georgia protect it?” Peck asked. “When international visitors come to Georgia they want to experience the homeland of Martin Luther King Jr. and Scarlett O’Hara, and the land of alligators in the Okefenokee Swamp. The Okefenokee is part of Georgia’s brand.”

Learn more about the threat to the Okefenokee at You can also read Sally Bethea’s latest Above the Waterline column for more context on the Trail Ridge mining proposal here.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.