Swamp Is Not A Bad Word

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The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina and Virginia has been dramatically altered over the past few centuries by human development. Rebecca Wynn/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thanks to Sarah McCammon at National Public Radio (USA) for this story:

“Drain the swamp” may be a popular political slogan, but it doesn’t always work so well in nature.

In southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has been dramatically altered over the past few centuries by human development, creating an environment more vulnerable to both floods and wildfires. Now, a federal project is trying to restore some of the swamp’s natural habitat and other characteristics through a $3 million effort that aims to reverse some of that damage.

The swamp is a vast wooded area spread out over more than 100,000 acres and populated with eagles, wild turkeys and bears. Refuge Manager Chris Lowie says water used to move more freely here, before humans started building ditches.

“The ultimate goal for us is to slow the drainage of the swamp. These ditches — 150 miles of ditches — have been dug throughout the swamp for the specific purpose of draining it,” he says.

Development began centuries ago, says Delores Freeman, a visitor services specialist at the refuge. European colonists saw the lush plant and animal life and decided to try farming it. Freeman says George Washington was among the first to develop the swamp…

Read the whole story here.

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