As the Tar Creekkeeper, and using my vessel, the kayak bearing its name, I went down the ramp at Riverview Park to find the confluence of the creek from the Neosho River. Butch Flick, who had recently returned from being a fishing guide in Alaska agreed to accompany. The ramp was muddy but the launch easy, witnessed by the folks visiting in separate vehicles. The Neosho is a brown river but easy mover. It is a lot farther to the train trestle than it looks, but just before the bridge over the highway, turn left and there you are in the slow to sluggish for sure "Tire Creek," the tire always visible along this stream, Tar Creek. There is little evidence it is ever found. It is wide and slow. The big trees bare the orange stains of the past floods.
The Blue Heron complained along our route for the intrusion. And a big fish or his brothers leaped for joy to have us there. Quiet and slow. Both sides of the creek's wild spaces were slowly joined by tree stands back from the water indicating some people join the site during certain seasons. What we found was the makings of a treasure, a wildlife refuge, practically untouched. We came upon 2 fellows standing on the bank, one owned 30 acres with 300 pecan trees he had just listed for sale. Land is a hard thing to give up, didn't Will Rogers say, "they ain't making any more of it?"
But this land this creek will get a brand new start, once EPA is funded enough to get to it. It is complicated, first fix it in Kansas, then follow it, keep chat from the big piles from getting into it, dreg what bad is in it and then figure out how to deal with the mine water discharge, keep dredging it all the way to the other train trestle, the one past Twin Bridges. With funding this could already be over and Luke could get that land sold, or be glad, very glad he kept it as its value increases with the clean stream he would have on both sides of him.
We have to think about this stream and figure out how we keep it clean, and then we have to consider all those sister streams and those unnamed streams that feed into streams that must be protected. That means we have to think hard about choices we make now that may impact our neighbors. Each of us with portions of land must think hard about holding on to it or making restrictions on our deeds that will end up protecting our heirs and their neighbors. What we do to the land we do to the water. And we all need water and all the future generations must have it too.
When we consider the future, we must think big. It is heavy the responsibility we have. Do we protect the land owners right to pollute your air, your water, your land? How right is that?
The Tar Creek Monster is really there, it is the choices made many years ago to fail to spend the money to keep pumping out that aquifer so water would not hang out long enough to become toxic and taint us for the rest of our lives. The monster is the choice humans make that create the monsters that will haunt us, poison our children and make our lives intolerable.
My homework is to study the Oklahoma Agriculture Statutes. This section looks out for Agriculture, not our land, our water or our people. Ag is for Ag. Those pages indicate a lot of laws have been repealed, sections of our anti-corporate farming laws, because our early Oklahoma lawmakers already knew about corporate farming and put protections for us and those laws have been degraded since 1992 when Big-Ag started seeing our plains as gains for their companies.
Kent Ryals, an attorney in Vinita said that can be changed. I agreed and legislators need help in making the laws protective of what is important, our future. What we also need are people who want the laws changed, not to infringe on farmers, which there aren't that many of anymore. But to help farmers make good choices and the state's future. We need no more monsters, no more degradation.
My other homework can be shared. Pick up a pen and write your letters now. Have an opinion. With the election coming up soon, write to those running for governor, since the winner will be appointing people who will serve in positions of power in every department of our state government. Elections have consequences and we must give the right to protect us seriously when we vote.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim