Fish and Chicken

If you Google “Illinois River” and “chicken,” you might be a little confused by this report:
Tahlequah has been named one of the best fishing towns in America by Field & Stream magazine. In fact, it is No. 16 in the top 20.
And, yes, Tahlequah is next to the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake, the sites of the greatest uproar in the battle between Oklahoma clean water factions, including the state and the chicken industry.
“The Best Fishing Towns in America” is featured in the February 2008 issue of Field & Stream, which is on newsstands. The article states that Lake Tenkiller is “remarkably clear and its 130-mile shoreline is picturesque.”
As opposed to this 2006 outtake from a story in a national, very respected newspaper: “Every time the rain comes down, muddy water laden with phosphorus, arsenic and other contaminants flows into the Illinois River from chicken farms nearby and just across the border in Arkansas. The inflow of nutrients has begun to change the river and the reservoir it feeds, Tenkiller Ferry Lake. At times the water is clogged with fish-killing algae, occasionally emitting a foul odor that affects the drinking water and undercuts the area’s attraction as a tourist destination.”
The Poultry Community Council was quick to congratulate public and private efforts, including the City of Tahlequah, State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and several partners, that have led to Tahlequah hooking the honor.
“The Poultry Community Council realizes and appreciates the work of the many people and important partnerships that have gone into creating a clean river that people truly enjoy,” Jackie Cunningham, director of community relations for PCC, said.
Field & Stream polled the nation’s top angling professionals to determine the list, comprised of towns with populations of 100,000 or less.
“These are the best places to live if you live to fish,” said Anthony Licata, editor of Field & Stream. “If you’re dreaming of life in an affordable, smaller town with an authentic fishing community and great quality of life, then pack your bags because these 20 are hands down the top options.”
Glenwood Springs, Colo., two-and-a-half hours west of Denver, took top honors on the list.
We are wondering just how far a report like this can go to clearing up one other dirty situation – the State of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against eight firms, including Arkansas giant Tyson Foods, on the grounds that the chicken waste applied to crops near the river contains hazardous chemicals that are damaging the ecosystem and jeopardizing the region’s tourist industry.

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