Save the Swamps!

   (Above: A rodent of unusual size. Source: Facebook)

Far south of the metaphorical swamp in Washington, DC, giant rats have invaded the swamps of Southern Louisiana while attempts to “drain the swamp” in Florida were long ago replaced by efforts to preserve the Everglades.

You can visit both regions next week on PBS, starting Monday, January 14, at 10 pm ET with Rodents of Unusual Size, followed Tuesday at 9 pm by The Swamp (but check local listings for days/times in your area). Both documentaries will begin free streaming the day after their broadcast premieres, Rodents through Independent Lens and Swamp through American Experience.

Louisiana’s 20-pound swamp rats are called nutria. They’ve been living in the state since being brought in from Argentina in the 1930s by fur harvesters, but their population has exploded – wreaking havoc on the ecosystem — since fur went out of fashion in the 1980s.

The 1930s was also a pivotal decade for Florida’s wetlands: In 1934, President Roosevelt signed a bill authorizing the creation of Everglades National Park, ending some 50 years of efforts to get rid of the giant swamp.

The executive producers of Independent Lens and American Experience explained the significance of the two documentaries:

“While the Louisiana coastline has seen more than its fair share of disasters, Rodents of Unusual Size explores an environmental threat that is no less dire though not making headlines,” said Independent Lens’ Lois Vossen. “This charming and funny film invites us into the lives of a community that doesn’t just survive but fights back with heart and humor to protect the land they love.”

The Swamp tells an epic tale of man’s never-ending attempt to control nature,” said American Experience’s  Mark Samels. “The story of the repeated efforts to tame the Everglades — and the often-deadly results of those attempts — is a particularly cautionary tale in these days of increasingly violent natural disasters.”

For more on Rodents of Unusual Size and The Swamp, visit Independent Lens and American Experience respectively.

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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