The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 21, 2013

Your View: We should be protecting our environment

By Kermit Swanson, St. Peter

— In a recent front page article a large headline said, "Study links farm field drainage to sediment." Wow, it took a three-year study by the Science Museum of Minnesota and several major universities to come to that conclusion.

Another major finding concluded that, "Any type of drainage that reduces the time the water is on the landscape will increase river flow." Again I say, wow.

I was born and raised in Chippewa County and after college spent much of my adult life there. It is probably one of the most drained counties in the state. For over 50 years, I watched as the farmers engineered the drainage of a host of wetlands speeding its water, topsoil and nutrients into the Minnesota River.

I witnessed the land as God had created it, its natural catch basins (sloughs) doing their job of holding back the run-off silt, and restoring that moisture as rain through the evaporation process.

But farmers, in their greed for more tillable land and encouraged by government incentives, defied Mother Nature saying they could do better. Instead of working with nature to enhance the catch basins and grass strips, they were drained and plowed. Right-of-ways along county and township roads were tilled and planted by these stewards of the land God had entrusted to them.

After 50 years and an expensive study, they conclude that they should have listened to what Mother Nature was telling them all along. Now we meet to study why our wells are contaminated and going dry.