November 23, 2015

Land and Water Conservation Fund needs our support

Save the LWCF#SaveLWCF

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s signature conservation and outdoor recreation program, has been a celebrated bipartisan success story for 50 years, growing and protecting America’s most precious places – everything from Yellowstone to your local neighborhood park. And because LWCF is funded through public oil and gas leases, not a single dollar is taken from American taxpayers.

In a sign of just how bad things have gotten in Washington D.C.,  Congress allowed the LWCF to expire this year. So, in the coming months, it will be critical to let your U.S. Congressperson or Senator know that you want the LWCF permanently re-authorized.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.24.28 PMThe LWCF has been used in almost every county and in every state.  LWCF has invested more than $213 million in our state over the past five decades, protecting unique Illinois treasures such as the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and Cypress Creek National Wildlife refuge. These places provide some of the best public land for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Illinois.

And these lands generate jobs and boost the economy of Illinois. Outdoor recreation in Illinois supports 204,000 jobs which generate $6.7 billion in wages and salaries, and produces nearly $1.6 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.

On this map, you can see how much LWCF has invested in your state for local parks, land conservation, and recreation. Read more about the LWCF and the efforts to save it on the LWCF Coalition page.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is aptly defended in this opinion piece in the New York Times.

Stay tuned for more ways you can help the LWCF.


November 23, 2015

Holiday Shopping Made Easy with Amazon Smile and PRN

If you shop online using, you can shop at and .5% will be donated to Prairie Rivers Network.

Shop At Amazon is just like shopping at

If you already have an Amazon account, just go to and sign in with your account information and enter Prairie Rivers Network as your charitable organization.

If you don’t already have an Amazon account, you can create one when you go to



November 19, 2015

Annual Dinner 2015

PRN-Logo-Long-300-Annual Dinner

The Prairie Rivers Network staff and board of directors had a wonderful evening visiting with 330 members and friends at our Annual Dinner on November 6th.

Pictures from the Annual Dinner

View photos from past dinners at our Flickr site…

River Steward Award

Carla MurrayCarla Murray of Canton, Illinois received our River Steward award for her many years of dedication to the cause of clean and healthy Illinois waters. Most recently, Carla was a leader with the Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues (CACEI), a group that successfully fought to prevent a coal strip mine from being built near Canton Lake, a drinking water supply for over 20,000 citizens of Canton and Fulton County. Carla has participated in the Illinois EPA Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program and is a trained RiverWatch Citizen Scientist. She has also been a valuable volunteer on numerous restoration projects around Illinois, including at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout a long teaching career, including as a Professor of Biology at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, Carla has taught innumerable students the value of healthy water ecosystems and shared her enthusiasm for protecting the environment.

 Volunteer of the Year Award

Volunteer of the Year Wes JarrellThe Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Wes Jarrell of Urbana, Illinois, who is the co-owner, along with his partner and fellow PRN-member Leslie Cooperband, of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. Wes is a long-time member and supporter of Prairie Rivers Network. Over the last year, Wes has been an important partner and advocate in Prairie Rivers Network’s campaign to support the Clean Water Rule. With his background and experience, Wes has been a critical ally, using his voice as a farmer and businessperson to call for stewardship for our land and water. In support of the Clean Water Rule, Wes wrote op-eds, lent his image to an ad that ran in major D.C. publications, and participated in PRN’s #4CleanWater social media campaign, including appearing in a short film to discuss the benefits of clean water for farmers and businesses. He has been a powerful and much-needed spokesperson for environmental responsibility.

 Keynote Presentation: Restoration Agriculture

Our dinner keynote speaker, Mark Shepard, discussed how he used restoration agriculture to create a profitable, sustainable perennial food crop by creating a farm that mimics the oak savanna natural landscape. By intentionally designing and planting perennial ecosystems, we can provide habitat for wildlife, produce food, reduce water pollution and runoff, and begin the creation of ecologically sustainable human habitats.

Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises, LLC and founder of Restoration Agriculture Development, Inc. and Restoration Agriculture International, Inc.

There are many sustainable farming practices that farmers can implement that will keep soil healthy and protect water. Perennial and winter cover crops prevent erosion and fertilizer loss, improve soil health, provide habitat for wildlife, and produce food. Strips of vegetation along ditches and streams provide a buffer that reduces sediment and nutrient runoff that harms water quality. Advancing sustainable farming practices in Illinois means financial opportunities for farm families, while ensuring we have healthy soil and clean water, nutritious food and healthier communities.

Thank you business sponsors

PLATINUM $5,000+


GOLD $1,000+

Champaign Surplus Common Ground Food Co-op
marco Fox Development Corporation
Patagonia Robeson Benefit Fund

UpClose Marketing and Printing

Silver $500

blue moon farm Elliott Counseling Group

National Wildlife Foundation

SharePower Russ Rybicki


Anderson Farms Champaign Telephone Company
Kickapoo Landing Neutral Cycle
Prairie Fruits Farm


Prairie Rivers Network invites you to support clean water and healthy rivers by becoming a business member of Prairie Rivers Network. Business sponsors can be recognized at our Annual Dinner and Illinois Marathon – Run for Your Rivers – charity running team.

For more information, please view our Business Sponsor Form, or contact Vickie Nudelman at 217.344.2371 or vnudelman [at]

October 26, 2015

New Coal Ash Safeguards Effective Nationwide

On October 19th, the U.S. EPA’s new safeguards on the disposal of coal ash went into effect nationwide. The rules are targeted to prevent impoundment failures (like the massive Kingston, Tennessee spill in 2008), protect groundwater beneath coal ash disposal sites, and establish basic requirements for maintaining these massive waste storage pits.

From now on, any new coal ash landfill, impoundment, or lateral expansion, will need a composite liner, a leachate collection system, groundwater monitoring, separation from groundwater, and other requirements for inspection and maintenance.

For existing coal ash pits, power plant operators need to begin inspection and monitoring requirements to meet deadlines on a rolling timeline.

Beginning immediately, utilities must:

  1. Establish a publicly accessible Internet site to post studies and reports
  2. Create public plans for handling coal ash that becomes airborne as “fugitive dust”
  3. Demonstrate safety for projects attempting to use “beneficial use” loopholes (e.g., dumping large amounts of coal ash to “fill” ravines or level out land, claiming the practice is “beneficial,” not “disposal”)
  4. Meet requirements for safe location and strong construction for new coal ash pits

Unlike many regulations for waste disposal, the U.S. EPA’s coal ash rule is “self-implementing,” meaning that there will be no federal enforcement. Instead, citizens and states must bring citizen lawsuits in federal court to enforce the rule.

Bottom line: it’s on us.

Utilities in Illinois have started creating websites where this information can be monitored by citizens (which we have linked below if you would like to keep up to date with a local power plant’s compliance). Over the next two years, more stringent standards of the rule will come into effect – and utilities will need to meet tighter standards and protect groundwater.

These companies are also considering the impact of the new Effluent Limitation Guidelines – requiring that power plants use affordable and effective modern technology to reduce pollution, or to eliminate the pollution altogether. The Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) require that power plants to shift to dry handling and disposal of their coal ash, ending the practice of dangerous unlined impoundments.

What’s Next?

Looking forward, we’ll be keeping up with compliance requirements – monitoring utilities’ actions for the U.S. EPA coal ash rule.

With both the Coal Ash rule and the Effluent Limitation Guidelines, however, legacy impoundments – the old, polluting pits storing tons of coal ash next to our rivers, lakes, and streams – are left largely unregulated. Illinois is home to 91 coal ash pits, many of which are located at now-shuttered power generating facilities.

These legacy pits need Illinois-specific rules to protect the surrounding communities and waterways. These rules are in motion, but at risk from industry attacks (i.e., power plant operators who could easily leave the damages for communities to pay).*

Join the effort by asking your local representatives and decision-makers to support safeguards for Illinois communities .
Local leaders can file letters and resolutions with the Illinois Pollution Control Board push the rules forward .

Stay up to date with information on coal ash in Illinois 

Contact Tyler Rotche for more information 217.344.2371 x.206

Deteriorating wall of the Dynegy Vermilion coal ash pit… exempt from the U.S. EPA rule requirements

Dynegy Inc. 
Baldwin Energy Complex (Baldwin, IL)
Coffeen Power Station (Coffeen, IL)
Duck Creek Power Plant (Canton, IL)
E.D. Edwards Power Plant (Bartonville, IL)
Havana Power Station (Havana, IL)
Hennepin Power Station (Hennepin, IL)
Joppa Power Plant (Joppa, IL)
Kincaid Generation Station (Kincaid, IL)
Newton Power Station (Newton, IL)
Wood River Power Station (Alton, IL)

NRG Energy 
Joliet 29 Generating Station (Joliet, IL)
Lincoln Stone Quarry (Joliet, IL)
Powerton Generating Station (Pekin, IL)
Waukegan Generating Station (Waukegan, IL)
Will County Generating Station (Romeoville, IL)

City Water, Light and Power
Dallman & Lakeside Power Station (Springfield, IL)

Prairie State Generating Company
Prairie State Energy Campus (Marissa, IL)

Southern Illinois Power Cooperative
Marion Generating Station (Marion, IL)

Exempt Units
Crawford Generating Station, Midwest Generation (Chicago, IL)
Grand Tower Power Station, Ameren (Grand Tower, IL)
Hutsonville Power Station, Ameren (Hutsonville, IL)
Meredosia Power Station, Ameren (Meredosia, IL)
Prairie Power Pearl Station, Prairie Power (Pearl, IL)
Venice Generating Station, Ameren (Venice, IL)
Vermilion Power Station, Dynegy (Oakwood, IL)


*Illinois Coal Ash Rules: These state-specific rules are now before the Illinois Pollution Control Board. While the Illinois EPA and power plant operators throughout the state pushed for an indefinite stay (or hold) on the rulemaking, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (in agreement with Prairie Rivers Network, partner organizations, and over 800 citizens) denied this motion. The IPCB has limited the stay to a 120 period to evaluate proposed rules. …stay tuned for updates around March 4th, 2016.


October 25, 2015

UPDATE: Clean Water Rule on Hold

UPDATE: November 18, 2015

Congressional Attempts to Kill Clean Water Rule Beaten Back

Prairie Rivers Network & friends urging Illinois Attorney General to intervene on behalf of Clean Water Rule.

Since we last posted on the Clean Water Rule, Senate Republicans have made two attempts to kill the Rule. One attempt was with a bill introduced by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming; what many have called the Dirty Water Bill. The second attempt was made using the Congressional Review Act, which is a law that gives Congress the power to invalidate an agency regulation through passage of a joint resolution.

We’re happy to report that Senator Barrasso’s Dirty Water Bill was defeated and that we fully expect the Congressional Review Act challenge to be vetoed by President Obama.

But victory is not quite here yet. There remains a very real threat that opponents in Congress will destroy the rule through the appropriations process, which controls expenditures by the federal government. We expect opponents to, among other things introduce measures that would prevent the EPA and the Army Corps from spending any money to implement the rule, rendering it meaningless. Prairie Rivers Network and other national allies will work to defeat these attempts.

Epiphany Farms is #4cleanwater

Meanwhile, Prairie Rivers Network has been organizing farmers and business owners in Illinois to write to Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan and urge her to intervene in the Court of Appeals lawsuit (discussed below) on behalf of the people of Illinois and in support of the Clean Water Rule. Several states have already done so, and we think Illinois should join them.

Original Post: October 25, 2015

Clean Water Rule Put on Temporary Hold by U.S. Court of Appeals

Prairie Rivers Network continues to work hard to see rule is upheld

Over the past year, we’ve blogged, tweeted, created video, posted on Facebook, organized, and just generally talked a lot about the Clean Water Rule.  The rule was finalized by the U.S. EPA this summer and was scheduled to take effect on August 28th, 2015. As is the custom with new regulations these days, the rule was challenged in court by industries intent on ensuring anti-pollution regulations do not apply to them. Unfortunately, many states, apparently beholden to these industries, joined the anti-Clean Water Rule lawsuits.

Most recently, on October 5, 2015, a federal appellate court granted a temporary stay on the rule, meaning U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers cannot implement the rule until the court proceedings are settled. It’s important to note that the very court issuing the temporary stay noted the long overdue need for the clarifications the new rule strives to achieve and the reliable nature of the science used to formulate the rule.

kid fishing_photo credit: Jason Lindsey

Because the rule is so necessary, because it was extensively vetted by qualified scientists, and because a great majority of Americans polled support the Clean Water Rule, we are confident  the courts will uphold the rule, and that we will finally get down to the business of protecting our smallest, most vulnerable streams and wetlands.  In the meantime, Prairie Rivers Network will continue to work with our allies across the nation to realize the benefits of this important rule.

October 21, 2015

IL Farm Bureau commits money to reduce nutrient pollution

The Illinois Farm Bureau is committing $100,000 to a new grant program to help county Farm Bureaus implement strategies next year that will improve soil health and water quality and reduce fertilizer runoff in their area. The grant program is designed to engage county Farm Bureaus in the effort to increase nutrient stewardship practices by farmers as the state strives to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from farms by 45% over the next 20 years.

Nutrient runoff can create toxic algal blooms, which are harmful for wildlife and humans.

Nutrient runoff can create toxic algal blooms, which are harmful for wildlife and humans.

Prairie Rivers Network is an active stakeholder in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy’s Policy Work Group, which is charged with implementing the state’s policy to reduce the flow of nutrient pollution into Illinois’ rivers, which ultimately flow into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.  In Illinois agricultural runoff accounts for 80 percent of the nitrogen and 48 percent of the phosphorous that flows into Illinois rivers each year and is contributing directly to often toxic algal blooms in drinking water sources as well as the growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

The success of the Strategy relies on farmers to voluntarily change fertilizer application practices and adopt other nutrient management practices to reduce the amount of fertilizer chemicals, manure and topsoil that are lost with snow melt and rain runoff. The Illinois Farm Bureau grant program encourages county Farm Bureaus to collaborate with local watershed groups, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other partners to assess what is needed in their county to promote land and water quality stewardship and nutrient management best practices by farmers.

At Prairie Rivers Network, we are encouraged to see the commitment of the Illinois Farm Bureau and engagement by county Farm Bureaus to water quality stewardship, but we also recognize the projected cost of achieving the state’s targeted reduction of nutrients by 45% far exceeds this investment. The Illinois EPA projects that it will cost up to $850 million per year over the next 20 years to achieve the targeted reductions in nitrogen and phosphorous from coming from all sources across the state. While changes in some nutrient stewardship practices will actually save farmers and communities money, serious commitment to reducing nutrient pollution will require major changes by most farmers. Removing these pollutants is costly but critical if we are going to protect the safety and health of our waters and of those in the Gulf of Mexico.