November 19, 2014

IDOA approves factory farm over local objections

Save Our Sandy continues to fight this mega-hog operation.

Save Our Sandy!  Photo credit: Gary L. Smith/Journal Star

Photo credit: Gary L. Smith/Journal Star

Despite local objections, another large hog operation has been approved for construction by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Local Marshall County residents fear their new neighbor will pollute nearby beautiful Sandy Creek and foul the air with unbearable odors. For months Prairie Rivers Network has been providing assistance to these concerned citizens, known as Save Our Sandy. Even with this latest setback, Save Our Sandy is not giving up!  Visit their Facebook page to help.

Beautiful Sandy Creek. This is what Save Our Sandy is fighting to protect.

Beautiful Sandy Creek. This is what Save Our Sandy is fighting to protect.
Photo credit: Save Our Sandy

For a full story on the Department of Agriculture’s approval of the controversial Sandy Creek Lane, LLC hog operation, see this Peoria Journal Star article (PDF).

Long-term reform means changing the law. Prairie Rivers Network has been working to improve the livestock operation siting law so that neighbors have more rights and protection from pollution. We are currently trying to find a rural legislator willing to sponsor a bill that will address the law’s shortcomings.

How can you help?  One way is to sign our petition.

Help protect the people living next to factory farms!

Sign our petition to change the law.

TakeActionButton

November 6, 2014

A rural paradise lost

David Leifheit once lived on “a little slice of heaven” in Ogle County, about halfway between the churning metropolis of Chicago and the muddy waters of the Mississippi River, Illinois’ western border. He proudly maintained the home he built himself on his mother’s ancestral land – land homesteaded by his great-great-grandparents over 150 years ago. The house sat at the edge of an old and rich forest, overlooking a prairie which boasted two ponds and a sparkling stream running through it. From his porch, David kept vigil over more than 1,000 family monuments—trees his father had planted when young, now reaching high up into the pristine skies of rural Illinois. When David speaks of his former home, his voice takes on the unmistakable timbre of a man in love. And in mourning.

David still lives on this property, but it is no longer the same place. In 2006 trouble found its way into heaven. That summer, David received notice that a neighbor would be building a 4,800-head hog confinement a quarter of a mile from his home. David’s life has not been the same since.

hog factory = paradise lostIn rural Illinois it is easy to find stories similar to David’s. Stories of people who lived to be outdoors now retreating inside, shut off from the world of fresh air and open spaces that once defined and drove them. Stories of a farming paradise swept under by an unrelenting tide of factory farm stench and pollution. Stories of lives lived in confinement.

Like David, Nancy Spratt treasured her summers outdoors on her family farm, with children splashing in the pool and ducks swimming in the pond. But also like David, Nancy’s world has been remade by the presence of a nearby hog confinement and the shifting winds that now determine whether she can open her windows or even walk outside without retching.

How is such a horrible smell created? How many hogs have to die to create this?

 

“It’s been horrible in recent weeks. If it’s not at our house, it’s in town. It’s an everyday smell now. Twenty-four years ago, I could walk outside, breathe my fresh country air. And I think I have a right to do that. Since the hog facility came, we can’t open up our house. Should we have to live like that? We shouldn’t.

Nancy is quick to point out that she is under no illusion of what it is to live on and around farms. “We are farmers,” declares Nancy. “We have cattle, chickens and ducks. We take pride in our farm. We love our livestock, but I’m not an animal rights person. We raise cattle and we raise them to be butchered.”

Nancy is emphatic that these factory farms are, in fact, heavy industry, and nothing like farms at all.

Nancy SprattNancy Spratt

“How is such a horrible smell created? How many hogs have to die to create this? It makes me question whether they are running it properly, and it makes me wonder what the long-term health effects are of breathing this in everyday.”

“And you have to wonder about the runoff. Salt Creek runs right behind us. What is it doing to the soil? What are they pumping into the soil?”

Sometimes the stench will even invade Nancy’s home. {Continue Reading »}

October 29, 2014

Stories Abound of Waterways Rescued by the Clean Water Act!

We often speak in general terms about how important the Clean Water Act is to keeping our public waters safe from pollution and destruction. A new report by our friends at Environment America gets up close and personal, with story after story describing how particular waterways have been rescued by the Clean Water Act. We helped with their case study about how the Clean Water Act was instrumental in protecting Illinois’ Apple River from a dairy operation’s pollution.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.08.38 PM

from Environment America’s “Waterways Restored” report

This report comes at a pivotal time. The public comment period is almost over for a federal proposal to protect intermittent and ephemeral streams that do not hold water year-round. We support the proposal because approximately 55% of Illinois’ streams are at risk of decreased protection under the Clean Water Act if the proposal is not adopted.

Prairie Rivers Network will be filing comments in support of the proposal and it is important for others to do the same. We’ve made it easy for you - click here to take action!

October 27, 2014

Annual Dinner Round-up 2014

2014 Annual Dinner

The Prairie Rivers Network staff and board of directors had a wonderful evening visiting with 300 members and friends at our Annual Dinner on October 10th.

Pictures from the Annual Dinner

View more, full size photos at our Flickr site…

Congratulations to our 2014 Award Winners

Vermilion County Board member Kevin Green received the Outstanding Public Servant award for his work protecting the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. Green supported the call for responsible closure of Dynegy’s leaking coal ash dumps along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River by bringing the issue before a variety of local leaders. Multiple Vermilion County boards unanimously passed resolutions pushing the Illinois EPA and political representatives to take action on these deteriorating pits along the state’s only National Scenic River.

Pete Leki of Chicago, IL was presented the River Steward award. Leki has been a tireless champion for the oft neglected and abused Chicago River and is the ecology teacher at Waters School in Chicago, co-steward of Sauganash nature restoration site along the Chicago River, and lead organizer of the Riverbank Neighbors Community group. Prairie Rivers Network is honoring Mr. Leki for his many years of work and inspiration and his leadership in transforming both the North Branch of the Chicago River, as well as the community that thrives along its banks.

Artist and graphic designer Joy Schmoll of Evanston, IL received Prairie Rivers Network’s Volunteer of the Year award for her donation of time and work, including designs of logos, flyers, and t-shirts.

Read more on our award winners…

Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age

Our keynote speaker, Mary Christina Wood offered her take on why the environmental laws of the 20th century are no longer addressing our most pressing problems, including pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. Professor Wood described how regulatory agencies, captured by the industries they are meant to regulate, are now in the business of permitting the pollution they were created to prevent.

She argued passionately for a new legal paradigm based on the public trust doctrine, an ancient legal principle that asserts public property rights to essential resources. The public trust doctrine, propelled by moral imperative to leave the world a better place for our children, compels government, as trustee, to protect natural inheritance such as air and water for all humanity.

Professor Wood concluded her remarks with a story that illustrated beautifully the scope of her work. She described how new development threatened the only surviving salmon of a particular species that spawned near her family’s home in the Pacific Northwest. In response, the community rose up and claimed, as a matter of right, that the salmon must endure, that the river must remain, and that this should be done in the name of future generations, both of fish and humans.

Thank you business sponsors

PLATINUM $5,000+

McKenzie-Wagner-Logo

GOLD $1,000+

Champaign Surplus Common Ground Food Co-op
marco Fox Development Corporation
patagonia-logo_2 Robeson Benefit Fund Logo

UpClose Marketing and Printing

SILVER $500

blue moon farm Champaign Telephone Company
Hartke Engineering and Surveying National Wildlife Foundation

BRONZE $250

Anderson Farms Prairie-Fruits-Farm
Print PAM-logo-w--FINRA-SIPC-&-Russ-Reg-Rep-of-FWG
October 7, 2014

Prairie Rivers Network to Honor River Advocates at Annual Dinner

Prairie Rivers Network will honor Kevin Green, Pete Leki, and Joy Schmoll for their work in protecting and promoting the health of Illinois rivers and wildlife at its Annual Dinner on October 10. The event will be held at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S First Street in Champaign IL.

Kevin_Green

Kevin Green

Vermilion County Board member Kevin Green will receive the Outstanding Public Servant award for his work protecting the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. Mr. Green is a farmer from rural Oakwood that serves on the Vermilion County Board as well as the boards for the Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation and the Vermilion County Soil and Water Conservation District. Green supported the call for responsible closure of Dynegy’s leaking coal ash dumps along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River by bringing the issue before a variety of local leaders. Each of these boards unanimously passed resolutions pushing the Illinois EPA and political representatives to take action on these deteriorating pits along the state’s only National Scenic River.

Pete_Leki

Pete Leki

Pete Leki of Chicago, IL will be presented the River Steward award. Leki has been a tireless champion for the oft neglected and abused Chicago River. Leki is the ecology teacher at Waters School in Chicago, co-steward of Sauganash nature restoration site along the Chicago River, and lead organizer of the Riverbank Neighbors Community group. Prairie Rivers Network is honoring Mr. Leki for his many years of work and inspiration, resulting in generations of Waters School students and families knowing and loving the Chicago River, as well as his leadership in transforming both the North Branch of the Chicago River, as well as the community that thrives along its banks.

Joy_Schmoll

Design by Joy Schmoll

Artist and graphic designer Joy Schmoll of Evanston, IL will receive Prairie Rivers Network’s Volunteer of the Year award for the donation of her time and work, including designs of logos, flyers, and t-shirts. For more information on the Annual Dinner, go to www.prairierivers.org/dinner

September 22, 2014

Prairie Rivers Network Annual Dinner

2014 Annual Dinner

Join river enthusiasts and Prairie Rivers Network’s staff and board members for good conversation, food, and fun at our Annual Dinner as we celebrate our rivers and streams.

Register for dinner here!Where: I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First Street, Champaign, IL 61820

When: Friday, October 10, 2014

Reception – 6:00 pm (music by Don’t Ask; silent auction)

Dinner – 7:30 pm

After-party at Houlihan’s

Price: $50 per person or $400 for a table of 10

Silent Auction: Back by popular demand, we will have great prizes to bid on…

Bike from Neutral Cycle • Patagonia fleece vests and hats • Patagonia backpacks • Prairie Fruits Farm Dinner • Canoe • Stop the Dam poster from John Marlin • Framed photography by Chris Main • Wood sculpture by Rick Larimore • Pottery by Bev Rauchfuss • Pampered Chef goodies from Nancy Pagaduan • Columbia Street Roastery coffee  • Aveda  • Destihl • Pizza M • Glider Ride by Illini Glider Club • Windy City Wild book  from Jason Lindsey • Champaign Surplus merchandise

Keynote Speaker: Mary Christina Wood

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Mary Christina Wood, a frequent and highly sought speaker on our environmental challenges and how we might deal with them. She has received national and international attention in recent years for her pointed criticisms of business-as-usual permit-granting by environmental protection agencies.

She is best known today for working with conservation interests across the country spearheading litigation—brought on behalf of children and teens, representing future generations—challenging the failures of public bodies to take responsible action under the Public Trust Doctrine. It has long been accepted in the United States and other countries that government holds waterways, beaches, and wildlife in trust for present and future generations. By bringing young people into the arena, Wood and her colleagues have helped shift attention to the future and brought real, compelling human faces to the issues. More than 50 lawsuits have been initiated across the nation, highlighting specifically the threats from climate change, drawing vast publicity and putting pressure on slow-moving governments and other actors.

RSVP by October 1st: Registration required. Click here to register now!

You may also download our Annual Dinner Response Card and mail it with your payment to Prairie Rivers Network, 1902 Fox Drive, Suite G, Champaign, IL 61820.

Dinner Choices:

  1. Sustainable Wild Alaskan Herb Crusted Coho Salmon with a sage cream sauce
  2. Locally Raised Chicken Chasseur with tarragon, mushrooms, tomato, garlic & white wine
  3. Eggplant Involtini with vegetable couscous and light tomato sauce

Dress Requirement? No. There is no dress requirement, however, most attendees dress in business or evening informal.

Thank you business sponsors

PLATINUM $5,000+

McKenzie Wagner

GOLD $1,000+

Champaign Surplus Common Ground Food Co-op
Marco Technical Documentation  

Fox Development Corporation

Patagonia Robeson Benefit Fund Logo

UpClose Marketing and Printing

Silver $500

Blue Moon Farm Champaign Telephone Company
Hartke Engineering and Surveying National Wildlife Foundation

BRONZE $250

Anderson Farms Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery
Neutral Cycle Russ Rybicki, Progressive Asset Management

 

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 s at 217.344.2371 or vnudelman [at] prairierivers.org.