QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Politicians often pledge to "drain the swamp," but there's one swamp in Bucks County that environmentalists say is fine just the way it is.
"A wetland of distinction is just a recognition of how important a particular wetland is," said Heritage Conservancy Land Conservation Manager James Drennan.
The Society of Wetland Scientists recently recognized the Quakertown swamp as one of only two in the state to have the title of Wetland of Distinction. The 518-acre site is now one of the world's most valuable wetland ecosystems.
"The services it provides to the community are invaluable," Drennan added.
He says the swamp, which is the largest nesting site of Great Blue Herons in Southeastern Pennsylvania and home to an abundance of rare plants and animals, acts as a giant filter, purifier, and buffer for heavy rain, flooding and pollution. This not only for nearby Lake Nockamixon but for the well water of area residents.
"If they were to build a structure to hold storm water, clean it up and recharge your well that would cost millions of dollars but this is doing it for free," he said.
Manual labor from Heritage Conservancy volunteers is the price to preserve it. As invasive plant species are constantly removed, as well as damaging tire tracks from 4 wheelers.
"There is still a growing need for additional conservation as we see increased development. We are right on the edge of Quakertown borough," said Senior Land Conservationist Laura Baird Bower.
Bower goes on to say 1500 acres of buffer habitat is still needed as a safeguard but so far the balancing act has been tipping in Mother Nature's favor. Bower says area residents and municipalities have been working to preserve large contiguous tracks of land, the key to the swamp's health.