Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge AQRV's
Okefenokee Wilderness is one of the oldest and most well preserved freshwater areas in the country, containing vast areas of swamp and bog, lakes, and streams. Both the Suwannee and St. Mary’s rivers originate in Okefenokee. Rainfall is the major source of water to Okefenokee Swamp and, therefore, water quality in the swamp is affected by pollutants in rainfall and is considered to be a sensitive air quality related value (AQRVs). Rainfall to the area is sometimes acidic and although the water of Okefenokee is naturally acidic (from tannic acids), the effects of decades of acidic rainfall is unknown. In addition, rainfall may carry toxic metals or organic pollutants. Monitoring shows that the area receives high loadings of mercury in rainfall compared to other areas of the country and certain species of fish and wildlife in the area contain elevated concentrations of mercury.
Okefenokee Wilderness provides habitat for a rich variety of wildlife, including herons, bitterns, ibis, cranes, egrets, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and wood stork, alligators, otters, and black bear. These organisms are considered sensitive air quality related values (AQRVs), that is, they may be affected by air pollution. Air pollution may indirectly affect these AQRVs by causing habitat degradation. In addition, they may be directly affected by atmospheric deposition of pollutants such as mercury and other toxics. Certain species of fish and wildlife in the area contain elevated concentrations of mercury.
The susceptibility of soils in Okefenokee to pollutant deposition has not been investigated. More information is needed to determine if they are sensitive AQRVs.
Several plant species in Okefenokee NWR are known to be sensitive to ozone. Surveys should be conducted to determine if these species are being injured by ambient ozone concentrations. More information is also needed on the sensitivity of wetland species to ozone. Little research has been done on the effects of air pollution on wetland plant species typical of Okefenokee. Because they are in a very moist environment, they are likely to have their stomates open much of the time, increasing the likelihood of gaseous pollutant uptake and subsequent injury. More information is needed to determine if these species are sensitive AQRVs.
- Okefenokee Ozone Injury Survey
- Ozone Sensitive Plant Species on NPS and U.S. FWS Lands
- Ozone Bioindicators on NPS and U.S. FWS Lands
Visibility is a sensitive AQRV at Okefenokee. Visibility impairment due to fine particle pollution has been documented at Okefenokee.