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Centuries of ditching, draining and harvesting resources have greatly altered the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. USGS scientists recently collected peat and lake core samples from the swamp to help reconstruct natural, environmental conditions over the past 12,000 years. This project will help managers understand how this system has changed in order to better manage and restore it. Restoring the swamp will provide many benefits, such as protecting wildlife habitat, supporting recreational activities and providing buffers to protect surrounding communities from storms and floods. Drainage has also made this area more vulnerable to large fires that can burn for months because of the carbon-rich peat that underlies the swamp.
The USGS is working with the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge on this effort.