Stop maligning wetlands with ‘drain the swamp’ metaphor

“Drain the swamp.” For decades this phrase has been used by various politicians as a metaphor for getting rid of wasteful bureaucracy, government corruption, terrorism and even capitalism. I suggest it’s time to quit maligning swamps in this way! Swamps used to be routinely drained, in an effort to control mosquitoes and combat malaria in some areas. Agriculture and development were other reasons for draining what were thought to be worthless wastelands.

Thanks to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s 1947 book “The Everglades: River of Grass”, people began to realize that far from being worthless, swamps and marshes are actually very valuable natural ecosystems. Swamps act like giant sponges, absorbing heavy rains and protecting coastal areas from storm surges. Wetlands are a natural treatment plant, filtering out wastes and purifying water. It’s a mistake to think that swamps only harbor pestilent insects. The variety of trees and other plants, and fluctuating water levels form a rich habitat for birds and other wildlife. Coastal wetlands are a nursery for fish and other marine animals.

Half of all wetlands in the U.S. were drained or filled before their value was recognized and laws were enacted to protect them from destruction. We can’t replace what’s been lost, but we can refuse to repeat the mantra “drain the swamp” as if it’s an admirable ambition. There are plenty of other more appropriate metaphors we could adopt. How about “flush the sewage”?

Sally Lider

Lynnwood

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, June 15

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Scenes from Everett High School graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday, June 15, 2018 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Investment in foster youths offers path to diploma

Treehouse’s Graduation Success hopes to help more foster youths to continue to college and careers.

Comment: Consumption, not population is beind climate change

Both the U.S. and China have seen fertility declines but are the leading emitters of greenhouse gases.

Comment: Leave tax argument for later and start building

Low interest rates make borrowing cheap, allowing Congress to delay debates on how to pay for infrastructure.

Harrop: Right’s real problem with Fauci is his dignity

When Trump belittled Fauci, the doctor cooly kept to the science and refused to show fear.

Cliff Bailey was a man of family, community and the land

A great man passed away recently (“Snohomish farmer and civic leader Cliff… Continue reading

Much as changed but respect for U.S. flag remains

When I was growing up June had two days of great import.… Continue reading

Many need to brush up on speed limits near schools

The pandemic made it easy to forget the sounds and traffic of… Continue reading

Urge Congress to protect voting, election rights

I support the For the People Act, which has been passed through… Continue reading

Most Read