Save the Illinois River, Inc.
24369 E 757 Rd.
Tahlequah, OK 74464-1949
(918) 284-9440

Why Can't We See Chicken Waste Report?

Save the Illinois River, Inc. | Environment | December 05, 2020

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Why won't the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture let us see how much chicken manure is produced in the Illinois River watershed and throughout the state? The department has decided not to report to the public this year on the poultry industry's size and potential impact on our clean water. That impact is huge. The last report (2018), for instance, showed that in Delaware County alone, the capacity of poultry farms was more than 17.8 million birds. Manure produced by chickens in Delaware County that was transferred or sold totaled nearly 63-million tons.


In order to protect the beautiful Spring Creek and Illinois River watershed, we need to see this report. Water conservationists study this data from Oklahoma and Arkansas to see the impact poultry waste is having on our water. Save the Illinois River (STIR) has asked the Agriculture Department to change its decision and to release the most current data on polluting chicken waste.


What can you do about this? Yes, it's the same old song. Each of us needs to tell our legislators that the Oklahoma Agriculture Department is failing to meet the safety needs of our citizens. Will you write your lawmaker?


Email Rep. Bob Ed Culver of Tahlequah: 

For Tahlequah:

See the 2018 Oklahoma Poultry Waste Report


Save the Illinois River Inc.

24369 E 757 Rd. (918) 284-9440 Tahlequah, OK 74464-1949


December 5, 2020


Secretary and Commissioner Blayne Arthur

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry

2800 N. Lincoln Blvd.

Oklahoma City, OK 73105


Dear Secretary and Commissioner Arthur,

Save the Illinois River, Inc., STIR, is greatly disappointed that your agency has apparently decided not to produce and distribute to the public an annual report on the production of poultry waste in the Illinois River watershed.  We are also concerned that this information may not be available for the Spavinaw-Eucha watershed.

Water conservationists, including STIR members, anticipate this annual report so that we can study trends in poultry production in the Illinoi River watershed.  We also study Arkansas’ poultry production report which is now being finalized.  Our members who live at Lake Tenkiller depend on the data because of the phosphorus loading to Tenkiller caused by chicken manure.

Because this report is in the public’s interest, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has a duty to compile the report even if the current state laws do not specifically require it.  The report is also in the interest of best management of the Waters of the State of Oklahoma.  We feel that staffing problems that may have been caused by the coronavirus, although regrettable, are not sufficient cause to withhold the report.  Other state agencies, and my own organization, have continued to meet our obligations to our public despite the virus threat.

The primary source of pollution in the Illinois River watershed is phosphorus.  The primary source of this nutrient is from nonpoint sources.  Animal feeding operations, mainly poultry farms, are the primary sources of phosphorus and bacteria from animal feeding operations.

STIR urges you to reconsider any decision to withhold the most current report.  We urge you to make the most current data available to the public even if you decide not to produce an official summary report on poultry waste production in the Illinois River watershed.


Denise Deason-Toyne

Save the Illinois River President


Copies:  Rep. Bob Ed Culver, Senator Dewayne Pemberton, STIR Counsel Bob Kellogg, Secretary of Energy and Environment Kenneth Wagner, Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma members.


“Clean Water is Northeastern Oklahoma’s Future” Your STIR Membership Current?  Ask at:  Call:  (918) 284-9440.

Join or renew membership at:


STIR, Advocating Scenic Rivers and Lake Tenkiller Protection Since 1984.


Kingfisher jpg from STIR page Flipped 5