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Tahlequah, OK 74464-1949
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[Archived] Illegal dam shows scorn or ignorance

| Environmental Issues | April 21, 2017


Illegal dam shows scorn or ignorance


The construction of an illegal private dam on the Barren Fork, a state scenic waterway, demonstrates the utter contempt or ignorance some people have of laws protecting water quality and scenic rivers in Oklahoma.


It also proves what we have been saying for some time - that Oklahomans find it easy to accuse Arkansas of degrading streams in eastern Oklahoma while not doing what it takes to stop stream degradation by state residents.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week after the dam in Adair County came to its attention that a cease and desist order will be sent to whoever built the dam and stopped the flow of the creek. But there appears to be some confusion as to who built the dam and on whose land.


Waiting isn't good enough.


State or federal officials should see the 422-foot-long dam is immediately dismantled. It is stopping the creek's flow and generating an algae bloom in the illegal impoundment. With a hard rain, the dam will probably give way, disrupting the stream bed and the waterway's dynamics even more.


The state set aside the Barren Fork and five other streams as scenic waterways about 30 years ago. It's a sad testimony that in three decades, the state has been unable or unwilling to educate landowners and citizens about the importance of clean, free-flowing waterways.


The comments by Sam Chandler, District 2 Adair County commissioner, that the dam is a "piss-ant site," "not damaging" to the creek, also point to Oklahomans' ignorance about the law and the need for protecting water quality.


We want Arkansas poultry companies to keep the chicken litter from washing into our streams. But Oklahoma ought to be setting the example for good river management, proper supervision of the waterways and immediate action when the law is broken.


Originally published August 1, 2005