Last Tuesday night, as part of South Portland’s multimillion-dollar Thornton Heights Stormwater Management Program, the South Portland Planning Board approved the city’s proposal to remove a forest to create a swamp.

Because a stormwater drain pipe is too small to handle the flow, South Portland has chosen to create swamps to “temporarily” hold water. (“Wetland” as a synonym for swampland is the aesthetically pleasing term used by swamp engineers.)

No contingencies will be made for the wild turkeys and deer that inhabit the area. The plan will not include control for mosquitoes and Eastern equine encephalitis. No arrangements will be made to protect children from falling into open pools of contaminated stormwater up to 4.5 feet deep.

Lastly, and most frustrating, an “expert,” even after admitting he was not an acoustic or a sound engineer, stated that the residents testifying to the noise reduction provided by the existing forest were incorrect. This “expert” misstated that the land does not contain hardwood deciduous trees more than 30 feet tall.

Residents testified to the Planning Board that this barrier of thick underbrush and deciduous hardwood trees keeps the Rigby railroad yard noise from reaching their homes.

They spoke of the audible differences in sound from summer to winter, when this 100-foot forested swath is less thick from lack of vegetative density brought on by the season. This small area of city land is the only nonlandscaped forest for miles.


There was a time when progress dictated that swamps were drained and forests cleared. We have since grown environmentally.

But should we now clear forests to make swamps and rename them “wetlands” so they sound like nice places? All for too small a pipe!

Micah Engber

South Portland

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.