Our new Governor wants to make Oklahoma a Top 10 State and has given his commitment: the people come first and he'll be a good listener, a continuous learner, and a bold leader for the decisions that make a difference for today’s children and the next generation.
Our Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, named as our new Secretary of Tourism and Branding, can make this happen.
If we want to be a tourist destination, we have to want to be here ourselves. If we go away we have to long to come home. Lt. Governor Pinnell needs to understand what is happening right now to our hopes for Tourism. If we make bad decisions today, we will be branded a state to by-pass tomorrow, not just because we have toll roads, but because you won't be able to drive through with the windows down and we won't have a water body that will be safe for swimmers or for fish tournaments.
Don't TRASH Oklahoma to benefit corporations. They might grow, but they will not grow children who will love this state and fight to protect her.
There is so much to see and enjoy throughout the state. Thousands of tourists from around the world follow Route 66 every year. Consider what our tourists see. They enter the state with Quapaw as the first town on their journey but they have also entered one of our nation's largest and oldest Superfund sites, named after our very own Tar Creek, which they will cross before they enter Commerce, Mickey Mantle's hometown, also within the superfund site.
On both sides of highway 66 near the Mantle Statue they can see Dr. Bob Nairn's world class Passive Water Treatment Systems at work, cleaning bad mine water. In downtown Miami our tourists can experience the Coleman Theatre Beautiful, a community treasure built by one of the original mine owners.
Many tourists follow original remaining sections of Route 66. Just south of Miami our tourists will get a whiff of the brand new flocks of chickens living their short lives in three mega barns. Route 66 travelers might not stop to shop at the tack shop. As generations of birds live and die in those mega barns, as the smells become entrenched, bicyclists and motorcyclists will become faster, rushing through to escape the odors.
These poultry houses will be growing birds you and I may never consume. Most of these birds will be hauled to Arkansas for slaughter, then shipped abroad to help feed the world. But Oklahoma will keep the waste with runoff flowing into our streams, rivers, our precious Grand Lake and her sister lakes down the Grand River. Each stream, river, and lake will hold trapped runoff water from the fields spread with excess chicken waste.
Our Green Country has lakes and rivers that are GREEN already, and as we feed the algae in the water more nutrients from poultry waste, they will get only greener.
Oklahoma's Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry passed rules February 19 giving occupied homes a set back from a poultry barn of 500 to 1,000 feet, but dwellings that are not occupied all year long could have a new poultry house built 150 feet from the property line. Our summer Grand Lakers might open the back door to find they have hundreds of thousands of brand new neighbors who live in the manure they excrete for months as they grow to seller size.
A Tourist Bonanza for Oklahoma! Bound to help us get the status as a Top 10 State for Get the Tourists out the fastest! Hundreds of poultry houses are already constructed in Northeast Oklahoma and the new rules will encourage more.
Two state agencies have let us down: Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry. The environment doesn't fare well in a state that doesn't even have a Department of Environment. The environment is not even listed in the issues on our current governor's website. We need to protect our water, soil and air quality. Because our tourists have earned time off and want a "get-a-way." Those people are us, too. We want to stay close to home, fish and swim in clean water and when we get home we want to be able to wash up with clean water and sit in the yard with our children.
I have given lots of Toxic Tours to educate the public about the legacy mining left us, with chat piles and our ruined Tar Creek as reminders. Our Lt. Governor might use this latest industrial growth scheme for tourism branding with images of chickens and MegaBarns. We can Toxic Tour our tourists through our state with their windows up.
We know that smell can drive away customers, can drive away potential, can shut down towns. We ought to be speaking out for the rest of the state. We ought to watch how we grow and what we grow, or we will lose the best thing we have... our future.
Wake up Oklahoma, we are going to have to fight right now to protect this state from our own agencies’ bad decisions. We have to convince our leaders to be on the PEOPLE's side.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim