Archive: Articles

September 17, 2015

Livestock waste spill into Stony Creek results in fish kill

Last week, concentrated livestock waste from a nearby cattle operation spilled into Stony Creek and the Vermilion River. Inspectors observed pollution impacts several miles downstream from the site of the spill, including in the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. The Oakwood public water supply, located seven miles from the livestock facility, was identified as being at risk. Due to the spill, Oakwood is not currently drawing water from the River.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the spill also resulted in a fish kill over a 10-mile stretch of Stony Creek and the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. An IDNR biologist estimates that more than 98,000 fish were killed. This area is habitat for several state-listed edangered species, and, sure enough, three state-listed species (River Redhorse, Bigeye Chub, and Bluebreast Darter) were found dead as a result of the spill.

Video of dead fish recorded Sept. 16, 2015, five days after manure spill.  Fish found near Muncie, Illinois, approx. 1 mile downstream from the livestock facility

This section of the river is also home to one of the relocation sites for the federally endangered Northern Riffleshell and Clubshell mussels. Impact on the mussel population has not yet been determined as the pollution has obscured visibility in the river.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has referred an enforcement action to the Illinois Attorney General’s office against the operator.

This is exactly why livestock facilities and factory farms should be located far enough away from streams and rivers so that accidents or spills do not pollute water bodies, causing fish kills and endangering public water supplies.

We also question why this report was made public nearly a week after the incident. That stretch of the Salt Fork is a favorite for recreation, and during a beautiful late summer weekend, how many anglers and paddlers found themselves up the proverbial . . . “manure creek?”

Read more here and here.

Stony Creek, tributary to the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River

Stony Creek, tributary to the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River

stony creek-1

More than 98,000 fish were estimated to have been killed.


September 14, 2015

Senator Kirk Joins the Dark Side


Well, Senator Mark Kirk is clearly no Jedi warrior. Last week he co-sponsored Senator John Barrasso’s dirty water bill, a bill that would kill EPA’s new Clean Water Rule. We love the Clean Water Rule, because it protects our smallest, yet most important streams and wetlands. These waters are currently providing drinking water for 1 in 10 Illinoisans. In fact, without the Clean Water Rule, 90% of the wetlands in the Great Lakes and many of the streams that feed the Lakes would be at risk of pollution and destruction.

By co-sponsoring the bill, Senator Kirk put the interests of polluting industries ahead of clean drinking water and healthy rivers. Senator Barrasso’s bill is a sham of a bill based on fear and greed and a lust for power-all expressions of the Dark Side of the Force.

We are dismayed that Senator Kirk joined the Dark Side, but it’s not too late, Senator. There’s still time to choose the light, to choose clean water and to protect the life force that sustains us all. Be a Jedi. Be #4cleanwater. Vote No on Barrasso’s #dirtywaterbill.

September 4, 2015

Take Action: Funding Crisis for Illinois’ Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Due to Illinois’ budget impasse, the future of Illinois’ Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and their equally important partners in the Illinois Department of Agriculture is in jeopardy.

Illinois has some of the richest and most productive soils in the world along with abundant fresh water, yet instead of investing in the long term foundation of our state’s soil and water, we continue to sacrifice the future for the present. 

Soil and water conservation efforts have already been cut to the bone over the last decade and cannot sustain further cuts; funding has been cut by 70% since fiscal year 2002.

Read more and sign our petition to Governor Rauner and state legislators, asking them to fund Illinois’ Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Support funding for Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts!

August 31, 2015

Press Release: A Landmark for Clean Water

American Rivers * Clean Water Action * Environment America * Natural Resources Defense Council * League of Conservation Voters * Prairie Rivers Network * River Network * Sierra Club


Contact: Michael Kelly, 202.393.5449,

Washington (August 28, 2015) – A coalition of conservation groups today said they are mobilizing their millions of members and activists in support of the Clean Water Rule and to oppose efforts in Congress to block it.

Their call comes as the long-awaited rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), took effect across most of the nation on Friday, August 28. Unfortunately, due to a temporary injunction issued by the District of North Dakota, EPA and the Corps cannot implement the rule in 13 states involved in litigation.

In a group statement, American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Environment America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Prairie Rivers Network, River Network, and Sierra Club said:

 “Today is a landmark in the history of clean water protection. Though we are disappointed by the temporary injunction in North Dakota, which leaves the water families and communities rely on in 13 states at risk of pollution and destruction, we are confident that commonsense, science-based protections for our water will prevail in the courts. The Clean Water Act authorizes EPA and the Corps to safeguard the bodies of water that have a significant impact on downstream waters and that is what the Clean Water Rule does.

Public support for the Clean Water Rule has never wavered and Americans will not tolerate efforts, in Congress or the courts, to turn back the clock now. Recent polls show that majorities of Americans across the political spectrum want their elected officials to get out of the way and let the Clean Water Rule go forward. However, the assault on clean water protections continues.  Defying common sense, science, and their constituents, a number of states filed suit to stop the Rule; and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate attached riders to must-pass spending bills that would roll back the Clean Water Rule, even though the Obama administration has rightly threatened to veto these measures. These actions raise the specter of another government shutdown this fall.  In addition, the Senate is very likely to debate S. 1140, a bill to stop the Clean Water Rule and force the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps to start over.

Americans are tired of polluters and their political defenders politicizing clean water. Our millions of members and supporters understand what’s at stake, and we will make sure their voices are heard by members of Congress to ensure the Clean Water Rule is implemented without delay.”

The Clean Water Rule eliminates  loopholes that for more than a decade left roughly 60% of the nation’s small streams and millions of acres of wetlands vulnerable to pollution and destruction. The Clean Water Rule restores clear protections to the drinking water supplies for nearly a third of all Americans.

Small business owners, local governments, public health professionals, religious leaders, rural interests and the general public support the Clean Water Rule.  Despite this broad public support, polluters—led by lobbyists for corporate agribusiness, oil and gas, and big developers—are exerting heavy pressure on Congress to undermine the Clean Water Rule.

For more information, please visit

See how the Clean Water Rule will protect Illinois waters

August 20, 2015

Prairie River Notes – Summer 2015 Newsletter

PRN Summer 2015 newsletter FINAL_Page_1Read Prairie Rivers Network’s Summer 2015 Newsletter, featuring articles on:

  • On Flood and Fire
  • New Madrid Levee Boondoggle
  • Annual Dinner
  • Redesigning Ag in Nature’s Image
  • River Steward Award Nominations
  • Board of Directors Update
  • Vying for Fed Funds for Flooding
  • New I ♥ Wildlife t-shirt


July 22, 2015

Press Release – New Poll: Hunters and Anglers Nationwide Support the EPA’s Clean Water Rule

July 22, 2015

New Poll: Hunters and Anglers Nationwide Support the EPA’s Clean Water Rule

Sportsmen and women across the political spectrum support protecting smaller streams and wetlands

Washington—A new nationwide, bipartisan survey found broad support among hunters and anglers for applying Clean Water Act protections to smaller streams and wetlands.

“As every hunter or angler knows, ducks need healthy wetlands and fish need clean water—it’s that simple,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, which commissioned the poll. “Everyone on Capitol Hill should take note: clean water has the bipartisan support of millions of sportsmen and women across our nation—and these men and women vote.”

Download the poll memo.

One of the poll’s key findings is that more than 8 in 10 of the hunters and anglers (83 percent) surveyed thought that the Environmental Protection Agency should apply the rules and standards of the Clean Water Act to smaller, headwater streams and wetlands. Support for this policy was strong across the political spectrum with 77 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Independents and 97 percent of Democrats in favor.

“The results of this poll are unambiguous: America’s hunters and anglers care very deeply about water quality,” said Al Quinlan, the president of Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “It is unusual to see such intense levels of public support for any issue.”

“I am the fourth generation of my family that has loved to fish the Wabash River. My sons are the fifth, said Illinois based artist and avid fisherman, Tony Treadway. “I have always lived or worked near Illinois waterways. I have seen the change from when I started fishing in the 1960’s and how much cleaner and better the rivers are now as a result of the environmental protection acts, like the Clean Water Act. I hope that the rivers continue to improve in their health so that they will be there for my grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy as I have in my lifetime.”

The issue of protecting smaller streams and wetlands adjacent to those streams has been politically contentious in recent years. The Clean Water Act protected all of the nation’s streams and wetlands from its passage in 1972 until two split Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 left it unclear exactly which streams and wetlands could be covered by the law.

The bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (D) partnered on the survey of 1000 registered voters who also hunt or fish. The sample leaned conservative—38 percent of those polled were Republicans, while just 28 percent were Democrats. Almost half of those surveyed (49 percent) said they considered themselves a supporter of the Tea Party.

“It would be hard to find a more conservative group than the hunters and anglers we polled,” said Lori Weigel, a partner at the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. “And yet their support of this policy is broad‐based and wide‐spread, cutting across partisan and ideological divisions. And it endures after hearing the arguments against it.”

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule clarifying that the Clean Water Act applies to more than half of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands—bodies of water that had been in a legal limbo for more than a decade. However, Congress is considering legislation that would undermine or nullify this rule.

Additional results from the poll:

  • Fully 89 percent say that the Clean Water Act has been “more of a good thing” for the country, with majorities of every single demographic sub‐group echoing this sentiment.
  • More than 8 in 10 sportsmen (82 percent) agree with the statement: “We can protect our water quality and have a strong economy with good jobs for Americans at the same time, without having to choose one over the other.”
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) of hunters and anglers see applying the Clean Water Act to smaller streams and wetlands is more of a safeguard, rather than a burdensome regulation.
  • Almost half of those surveyed (47 percent) say that water quality and fish and wildlife habitat issues are of primary importance to their voting decisions. Nearly all sportsmen say these issues are at least somewhat significant in their voting decisions (92 percent).
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) say they would have a more favorable opinion if their Senator upheld this application of the Clean Water Act. Only one-in-ten would feel less favorably (11 percent).

“Hunters and anglers were the original conservationists and their support for this policy comes as no surprise,” said Jim Martin, conservation director at the Berkley Conservation Institute, a branch of Pure Fishing, one of the largest tackle manufacturers in the sportfishing industry. “Restoring Clean Water Act protections to smaller streams and wetlands will help the economy, protect our drinking water and allow us to pass the great sport of fishing down to future generations. Congress should allow this common-sense rule to take effect without delay.”

“I cannot fathom the thought of my kids not being able to hunt or fish in the streams here in Illinois, says Dan Sidwell, President of the Oyate Sports Club in Pocahontas, IL, who is supportive of the Clean Water Act. “Outdoor recreation and sports are a tradition in downstate Illinois. As an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman, I believe it’s our responsibility to take care of our streams, rivers and lakes. If we don’t what will we leave for our children?”

About the methodology

From June 23–July 4, 2015, Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research completed 1000 interviews with registered voters who also identify as hunters, anglers or both. Half of the interviews were conducted on landline and cell phones, with the other half conducted via internet panels. Respondents are from throughout the United States and the sample was compared to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys of adults who hunt or fish for demographic representation.

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and InstagramPrairie Rivers Network is National Wildlife Federation’s Illinois Affiliate and Illinois’ advocate for clean water and healthy rivers. 

Lacey McCormick, (512) 610-7765,
National Wildlife Federation

Carol Hays, (217) 344-2371,
Prairie Rivers Network, Illinois Affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation