Allison Park, Pennsylvania - 1972
Listen to Carl Ide
I would like to take a few minutes again to talk about the subject of ecology. In particular about an area that concerns me very deeply, that is the rapid disappearance of one of our most valuable natural resources - the swamp.
According to "American Swamplife Magazine", we lost more than four percent or our valuable swampland last year to the construction of roads, airports, shopping centers and the like. The rate of reclamation is increasing every year. At the present rate we will have used up the last acre of available swamp by 1994. What will this mean to our future? Well, to quote from an inhabitant of the Okeefenokee swamp in Walt Kelly's "Pogo" comic strip - in the words of Albert The Alligator, "Gyork!"
I think I can say with assurance that most of you listeners live within easy driving range, if not walking distance, of a shopping center. But how many of you live within easy reach of the grandeur and beauty of a genuine swamp? Not very many.
And yet, in blind ignorance of the vast loss to ourselves and to our children, we continue to deface this land by draining the stagnant waters, felling the mighty trees, burning the tangled underbrush and, in the process, killing the animals, large and small, that make up the great American swamp.
How many children, born and raised in the city, have never seen a cow? Well, fewer yet have experienced the incomparable thrill of being chased by an alligator, swift and terrible in its natural habitat, through the treacherous depths of a swamp!
Have we the right to deny one of the many vital experiences of growing up to our children? Of course not.
And yet, daily, vast acres of swamplands are being defaced. And for what? For the ugly steel and monotonous concrete of shopping centers.
Can anything be done to stop this growing waste? I'll be back with the answer in a moment.
The first step towards the solution of this serious problem is to stop the construction of shopping centers on valuable natural swampland. It is hardly necessary to have shopping centers every few miles along our highways. Why duplicate the shopping center that exists only a few miles down the road when we can make a path through a swamp? By doing so we save money, we allow ourselves the thrilling experience of walking through the glorious depths of an untouched swamp every time we go to the store and we preserve the balance of nature by saving the homes of the birds, the snakes and the lepidiles.
Secondly - we can go into our cites, tear down the slums and replace them with great parks of transplanted swamplife; eliminating the ghettos and beautifying the cities at the same time.
Finally, and most important, - we must write our congressmen and demand that money be appropriated for the preservation of the American swamp. We must insist that this be goven top priorty in the national budget. We must let them know that all the money that is allocated should be sent to the "Carl Ide Swamp Fund" for proper distribution.
Only in this way can we be sure that this country, in the future, shall have its vast stretches of swampland; and our swamps, in their value, their necessity and their beauty, shall not perish from the earth.