Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saving A Swamp: Citizens Unite for the Greater Good

By Sharon Meyer

It is incredible what people can accomplish when they put their whole heart into something; for instance, the people who helped preserve swamps, wildlife, the Farny Highlands and Sterling Forest. After reading this chapter titled “Saving a Swamp and Landmark Campaigns,” I have come to realize anything is possible with perseverance and determination.

These ordinary, everyday citizens put their minds together and stood for something they believed in. “On the other side were determined citizens who organized support of more than four hundred civic organizations in twenty-nine states, raised more than four million dollars to purchase the core of the land they sought to save, and saw it dedicated as a national wildlife refuge,” Jan Barry wrote of the Great Swamp campaign. In my life I have heard many people around me complain about things they do not like or problems they have, but instead of taking action, they sit and complain about it. To read that citizens have actually turned their thoughts into a real operation, creating civic groups, was shocking to me.

These civic groups and the people who have started them probably have affected my life more than I have ever realized. I remember going to the wetlands on an eighth grade class trip. If it was not for these groups, I may have never been able to experience the marshes and the wildlife I had seen there. Preservation of wildlife is such an important aspect of saving the environment, because they are a major part of our ecosystem. If we destroy and disturb the core of an ecosystem, the other parts of the ecosystem will ultimately fail, endangering human life as we know it.

The future lies in our own hands, and if more people do not start concerning themselves with the current situation the environment is in, then I really do fear for the future. I have never really cared about these swamps and marshes, as long as there was a mall I could go to, and a highway to drive on to get to that mall. Yes it sounds selfish and disgusting, now that I realize that type of thinking is what has ruined such a beautiful landscape and environment that surrounds me today.

Reading further into the chapter, I came across something very interesting. The Port Authority was the main reason there had to be a movement of saving the Great Swamp. Apparently they wanted to build an international airport on this marsh land that was popular with migratory birds. If this movement by a determined group of citizens never took place, this marsh land would have been gone, and I would have never even thought about its absence. In the book, A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Campaigns, it says that this is now the most visited marshland, especially for avid bird watchers. Because of the courageous effort and the tenacity that was instilled in local residents and taxpayers to take action in the matter of saving the swamp, the ecosystem there is left unaltered and available for my future children to visit.

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