New poultry growers group formed OSRC told. Landowners come for help.
Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Meeting April 19, 2005
Poultry growers told OSRC commissioners that a new organization of growers called Poultry Partner, Inc. has been formed. Bev Saunders said the organization possibly will be recognized by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson who is attempting to reach a water quality agreement with Arkansas poultry companies. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, which claims to represent growers, has not been permitted by Edmondson to take part in discussions with the poultry companies. Saunders said the new organization includes more than 100 growers and hopes a settlement, out of court, can be achieved. The organization plans a meeting at Broken Bow in about three weeks.
Its reported that Edmondson's office will resume talks with the poultry companies next month.
Land owners who are unhappy with Illinois River floaters who trespass again came to the OSRC seeking relief. Ron Timmons told the commission that floaters believe that property along the river is state-owned. He said the commercial outfitters are not asking customers to respect private property, the vast majority of land along the Illinois. Abusive language, property damage, littering, and fires are a common problem he said.
Commissioner Jan Rucker said the problems are not caused only by tourists, that local residents also pose problems for river property owners. Commissioner John Larson said that 90-percent of the problems can be attributed to the outfitters not communicating about private property rights. He said that "guided" float trips might be an answer.
OSRC Administrator Ed Fite said about 110,000 people floated the Illinois River last season. He said the commission might consider assisting land owners with publicity, signage, and fencing. He said additional public toilet facilities are possible this season. The commission will send letters to landowners seeking their thoughts about trespass violations. Focus of private property rights may receive more focus by the commission.
Although the water in the Illinois River belongs to the state, very little adjoining property is public. In some cases, if a landowner owns both sides of the river, a floater me be trespassing if he stands on the river's bottom.
On other matters, Fite said the OSRC's new state budget probably will be about what the current budget is, approximately $351,000 in state appropriated funds.
SCR 22, calling on scenic river regulators to explain steps they have taken to protect water quality, will be heard by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee Thursday morning Fite said. Critics of the resolution say it is merely a discovery opportunity requested by the poultry companies facing a possible lawsuit over water quality issues.
Fite said the Arkansas-Oklahoma River Compact Commission has approved a plan for additional water quality monitoring in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Some $5-million dollars in federal funds are will be sought.
Attempts to create a new state scenic river on the Blue River will not succeed this year Fite said.
Three Illinois River cleanups are scheduled this year, on June 3, July 8, and Sept. 9.