Save the Illinois River, Inc., STIR, is the only private, not-for-profit organization chartered exclusively for the preservation of the Illinois River (Upper and Lower), Flint Creek, Barren Fork Creek, Tenkiller Lake, and their tributaries. It is the voice of Oklahoma Scenic Rivers.
Tahlequah area citizens formed STIR in the early 1980’s in response to a permit allowing Fayetteville, Arkansas to discharge treated sewage into the Illinois River watershed.
Represented by the late U.S. Representative Ed Edmondson, Muskogee, STIR joined the State of Oklahoma in appealing the EPA’s decision to the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. After winning that appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court made a precedent-setting ruling in the Fayetteville case. The high court held that under the Federal Clean Water Act, UPSTREAM STATES MUST MEET THE WATER QUALITY STANDARDS OF DOWNSTREAM STATES. The decision is being used today throughout the nation as states attempt to address pollution of their shared waters.
Armed with this decision, Oklahoma water quality regulators have adopted more stringent standards and concentrated water-sampling programs for the Lake Tenkiller, the Illinois River, and other Oklahoma Scenic Rivers. This will help insure their futures.
STIR was instrumental in the adoption of an instream numeric limit for phosphorus for Oklahoma Scenic Rivers, probably the most important protection for Oklahoma Scenic Rivers since adoption of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Act. STIR members helped generate more than 600 supportive comments submitted to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, helping insure adoption of the historic phosphorus standard. No previous issue prompted such a favorable response to an Oklahoma Water Resources Board rule. Following state adoption of the standard, STIR led the campaign to get EPA approval of the phosphorus rule.
Working with the Greater Tenkiller Area Association, STIR successfully campaigned for a High Quality Water designation for Lake Tenkiller. Governor Brad Henry approved the OWRB’s HQW designation for Tenkiller Lake. The HQW designation, paired with the very high standards for the Illinois River, will help insure future protection of Lake Tenkiller.
STIR played a major part in the adoption by the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission of the Illinois River Management Plan. The plan is a blue print for managing the growth in the Illinois River basin.
STIR successfully blocked a proposal, which would have brought raw sewage to the upper Illinois River for treatment at the Watts, Oklahoma sewage lagoon. Working closely with the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, STIR helped achieve an environmentally safe alternative to the controversial plan.
STIR was a party to a Federal Court lawsuit over the EPA’s failure to exercise oversight of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollutant limits for the Illinois River and continues to press for adoption of TMDLs for the Illinois River and other impaired streams.
In an agreement between STIR and the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority, the NACA Wastewater Treatment Plant will discharge phosphorus at a rate ten times lower than originally designed. The facility is located on Osage Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River in Arkansas.
STIR actively monitors water quality issues such as citizen’s concerns about water pollution. STIR reviews proposed NPDES permits and permit renewals for wastewater treatment plants in Oklahoma and in Arkansas. STIR closely follows matters before the Oklahoma Legislature, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, Greater Tenkiller Area Association, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and state and federal agencies.
STIR members attend Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission meetings and support the OSRC's Illinois River cleanup activities.
STIR’s Web Page (www.illinoisriver.org) is used to communicate with our members and to share news about issues affecting the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller.
In 2003, STIR welcomed the merger of the Scenic Rivers Association of Oklahoma, the original scenic rivers advocacy group, into STIR’s statewide membership.
Membership categories are: Individuals and Families, $15; Businesses and Organizations, $25; Donors, amounts greater than $25. STIR is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions are tax deductible.
SAVE THE ILLINOIS RIVER, INC.
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Adopted _____ 2010