By Rose Davis
On Aug. 25 the Faculty Senate discussed a housing development planned to be built north of the Ebenezer Swamp area and the pollution it could create. I hope it gets canceled but I know it won’t be, it will only be shuffled around and reformed to fit minimal standards. Alabama’s wetlands are on a cliff edge, ready to be destroyed or polluted by development and human interaction. I worry about our wetlands, our swamps and our marshes.
In the past 200 years Alabama has lost over 50% of its wetlands, according to Benjamin F. McPherson of the 1993 U.S. Geological Survey, losing over 5 million acres to agricultural, commercial, industrial and housing development. Regulations generally allow wetland destruction if enhancement or creation is followed, however the ability to simply artificially replace should not be reason to destroy it.
In more recent years, former president Donald Trump removed massive environmental restrictions on infrastructure, water pollution and toxic substances during his term according to the New York Times.
In 2021, PBS reported that Biden has managed to reinstate WOTUS, or the Waters of the United States Act, that protects major waterways and wetlands, along with reassessing which types of waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. However, the National Association of Home Builders and the American Farm Bureau Federation were against the renewal of the acts. Both home building and farms are major destroyers of wetlands as both land development and chemical runoff disturb the environment as stated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Scientific and Technical Information department.
Wetlands are at such a risk because they are part of a waterway. This means that any pollution upstream will move through them until it reaches the gulf. While they are less human friendly than forests or grasslands, they serve a major role in water filtering, heavy metal dilution, storm surge protection and oxygen production due to the high number of plants. They also are transition zones for surrounding ecosystems, providing housing for both terrestrial and aquatic species. Semi-aquatic and amphibious species especially find wetlands friendly. Wetlands are major reason that Alabama is called America’s Amazon, as both NPR and AL.com have termed, enabling massive amounts of biodiversity.
Ebenezer Swamp is a beautiful wetland and nature preserve, home to sycamore and tupelo gum trees, and a rare species of coneflower. It also houses turkeys, beavers, copperheads, and rattlesnakes and the countless species of fish that move through it that deserve to drink and exist in the water without fear of harm from suburbia. If Ebenezer Swamp is polluted, it’s another step on a path I don’t like Alabama taking, it’s a path of ignoring it’s ancestral, natural ecosystems for modern development. It’s ignoring the wetlands, the swamps, the bogs and the rivers of Alabama.