Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission
Volume 10 Issue 1 March 2013
Dr. Riley Needham
Making Sense of AR-OK’s Second Joint Principles and Actions
Archie “Trey” Peyton, III
Echota Public Access
Area on a clear spring
by OSRC Administrator Ed Fite
continued on page 2
In late February, media sources reported that Arkansas and Oklahoma had executed
a new Second Statement of Joint Principles and Actions related to Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers.
Since then many are asking, “Didn’t the two states already deal with this issue?”
The answer is yes. In December 2003, both states entered an agreement establishing
a common goal for improving water quality in Oklahoma Scenic Rivers. In that agreement,
Arkansas and Oklahoma committed to a bi-state partnership to mitigate excess nutrients
from point and non-point pollutant sources. Since 2003, this partnership led to $300 million
being expended by Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma cities to upgrade waste
water treatment plants. It also led to poultry companies and contract growers developing a
new market process that has achieved the removal of 75% of poultry waste from these
watersheds. The synergy of efforts netted considerable reductions in phosphorus levels and
much improved water quality in Oklahoma Scenic Rivers.
Despite the gains, the first agreement contained inherent obstacles to overall success.
A sentence inserted by Arkansas representatives “steadfastly insisted and maintained”
Oklahoma’s new phosphorus criterion for scenic rivers could never be attained. They argued
openly it would cause dire ramifications to the growth of Northwest Arkansas and its economy.
When the term of the agreement was concluding, Arkansas representatives restated
their concerns and made it known they were considering legal action to challenge
implementation of Oklahoma’s 0.037mg/L phosphorus criterion for scenic rivers.
At that point, Oklahoma’s Secretary of the Environment Gary L. Sherrer convened a
meeting with Arkansas officials to discuss their concerns and explore alternatives for the two
states to continue building on the successes already achieved.
After several months of maneuvering on both sides of the border, Arkansas and
Oklahoma representatives, in consultation with their respective state environmental agencies,
came together to develop a framework for a new agreement. The group, consisting of Randy
Young, Director of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Teresa Marks, Director of
the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, stated they believe it “is in the best interests to
continue to work cooperatively to protect and improve water quality in Oklahoma Scenic
Rivers and to avoid costly and protracted litigation and administrative proceedings which
would further strain relationships...and distract from those cooperative efforts.”
River Currents Vol 10 Issue 1
OSRC Board and Agency News
Making Sense of AR-OK’s Second Joint Principles and Actions continued
Education Outreach Coordinator
New OSRC Staff E-Mails
Please direct e-mails to our new
Cheryl Allen began working for
the OSRC in the fall of 1997. Cheryl joined
the team with two managerial degrees -
a Bachelor’s in Management and Nutrition
and a Master’s in Environmental Manage-ment
from Northeastern State University
- and several years of managerial
expierence. She is also a Certified Pro-curement
Officer and an Environmental
Specialist with the Oklahoma State Depart-ment
Cheryl has a strong background
in management and finance. She has held
managing positions at the Solid Waste In-stitute,
Venture Drilling, Inc., as well as
area retail businesses. Cheryl began at the OSRC as an administrative sec-retary,
but her skills as well as her dedication to Oklahoma’s scenic rivers,
led her to become the OSRC’s Administrative Manager in 2006.
As the day to day manager of the OSRC, Cheryl develops the OSRC
budget, oversees accounting and personnel, and assists Administrator Ed
Fite in developing and implementing policies and procedures to further the
When not working, Cheryl is an active member of the Tahlequah
community. Cheryl is a dedicated yogi who practices and teaches yoga at
the 108 Yoga Studio. Cheryl is also an avid baker, painter, and hiker.
Employee Spotlight: The upcoming River Currents issues will feature a
spotlight on one of the OSRC’s talented and dedicated staff memebers.
This issue, we focus on Administrative Manager Cheryl Allen.
What resulted was a three-year extension of the 2003 agreement. Both states will continue work to mitigate
impact from point and non-point pollutant sources. However, the most important aspect of the second agreement is that
both states have committed to: 1) conduct a Joint Study to determine the Total Phosphorus threshold, at which level a
significant shift occurs in algae production that results in undesirable water quality conditions; 2) agree to be bound by
findings of the Joint Phosphorus Criteria Study; 3) in lieu of further litigation, that they will implement controls to
achieve desired results of the Joint Study.
The Joint Study will be managed by a six-member committee – three appointed by Arkansas Governor Mike
Beebe and three appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. All six members will be professionally qualified to design
and conduct scientific water quality studies. During the course of the three-year study period, the Joint Study Committee
will be required to conduct public hearing(s) each year to receive public comments and for dissemination of interim
reports. At the end of the third year, a final report and all data collected or reviewed during the Joint Study will be made
publicly available. The new study will be paid for by the state of Arkansas.
As was the case when the first agreement was executed, there are those scenic rivers stakeholders who
criticize this second agreement. To them, and for that matter everyone, I would say that neither the state of Arkansas
nor the state of Oklahoma has clean hands on the issues. Regardless, I would argue that the Illinois River, Flint Creek
and Barren Fork Creek are cleaner than they were ten years ago. The second agreement demonstrates our continued
willingness to work together and as long as we’re trying to get along, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers benefit. If one of our two
states should stop trying, then our scenic rivers will suffer; it’s paramount that Oklahoma not push so hard that the state
of Arkansas is no longer willing to work with us.
River Currents Vol 10 Issue 1
Spotlights in the River Basin
Vegetation Stabilizes Streambank Projects
The Illinois River streambank stabilization projects coor-dinated
by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Oklahoma
State University began in the summer of 2012. Construction of
these projects ended in August, but the final steps of selecting and
planting proper vegetation were completed this March.
The goal of the stabilization projects was to reduce ero-sion
to prevent land loss, improve water quality and habitat as
well as recreational, aesthetic, and property values. North State
Environmental, Jennings Environmental, and Stantec sought to ac-complish
these goals by using natural restoration approaches.
An important natural material used in these projects was
vegetation. Vegetation was strategically chosen and planted in or-der
to strengthen bank and soil resitance to erosion, expand and
improve habitat, and showcase how vegetation can be used suc-cessfully
in riparian areas.
Much of the vegetation installation took place at the OCC
sponsored Riparian Vegetation Workshop from March 19th - 20th.
Approximately 80 volunteers attended the workshop to learn about
riparian vegetation and to assist with planting.
The workshop began with presentations about how to prop-erly
choose and use vegetation in riparian areas. Greg Jennings of
Jennings Environmental began the workshop with an overview of
the work done at each site. Blue Thumb’s Cheryl Cheadle gave a
presentation on practices to maintain healthy riparian areas and
streams. Water Resource Specialist Eve Brantley presented infor-mation
about stream and floodplain vegetation. Brantley discussed
the importance of using native plants and the issues which can
occur when non-native invasiive species are used. Volunteers were
then taken through the tree planting process by Oklahoma Natural
Resources Conservation Service’s John Mustain. The final presen-tation
was given by Pat Gwin of the Cherokee Nation, who dis-cussed
plants culturally significant to the Cherokee people.
Volunteers spent the first afternoon and the second day
planting trees and other vegetation at Felts Park, Kaufman Park,
the Illinois River Ranch, and War Eagle Resort.
Dogwood, Black Willow, River Birch, Red Buds, Black Oak,
Black Walnut, Maple and Elm trees were planted along riparian
zones and benches to stabilize the land. Trees planted near the
river and streams will also provide shade to cool the water and
increase the amount of oxygen the water retains.
Willow live stakes were also used at the sites. The live stakes were placed in riparian zones and directly in water.
As the stakes sprout, they will stabilize the land. Willow whips, shown in the bottom photo, were bundled and placed along
the water. The whips root quickly and because of their placement, the water will flow over them and not break them.
The OSRC was a partial sponsor of the event. The maintenance team provided substaintial support in picking up and
hauling vegetation, as well as planting before and after the workshop. Throughout the week, OSRC maintenance staff
members planted approximately 1,200 trees and plants at Todd and Peavine Public Access Areas.
A tour of the sites is tentatively scheduled for next spring. Those interested in seeing the stabilization work can visit
a number of public project sites, including Felts Park, Kaufman Park, War Eagle Resort, the Illinois River Ranch, Todd Public
Access, Peavine Public Access and the Tahlequah History Trail.
Live stakes were placed in several spots, including
along this boulder vane at the Illinois River Ranch.
United Keetoowah Band’s Summer King and OSRC
Board Secretary/Treasurer John Larson cut and scrape
stakes before planting at War Eagle Resort.
River Currents Vol 10 Issue 1
on the W ild Side....
Northern Hogsuckers in Scenic Rivers
A young hogsucker scours a river bottom for food. Close-ups of the hogsucker’s uniquely shaped snout.
lay their eggs. The males then stand on their head with
their tails in the air while they fertilize the eggs.
Fry hatch after only 10 days. They are not cared
for by their parents, instead feeding and fending for
themselves until they reach maturity.
The hogsucker is often one of the larger fish in its
habitat. They typically grow around one foot long and can
reach between 1 to 4 pounds. Their size and designation
as a nongame fish make the hogsucker a popular fish for
anglers. Hogsuckers can be taken by gigs, spears and
spearguns, but only during gigging season, which takes
place between December 1st and March 31st.
There are multitudes of native fish in Oklahoma’s
scenic rivers, including types of bass, crappie, minnows,
and suckers. One common species of sucker found in scenic
waters is the northern hogsucker.
This distinctive fish is named for the hog-like snout
it uses to find food. It uses its mouth to overturn rocks at
the river bottom, searching for aquatic insects and other
prey-fish in the sediment.
The presence of hogsuckers indicates consistent
water clarity and quality. Hogsuckers not only serve as
biological indicators; they also benefit the rivers they inhabit
in several ways. The hogsucker’s diet helps control the
population of nuiscance insects like mosquitos.
Another positive aspect of hogsuckers is the benefit
they provide to their ecosystem. Hogsuckers aid mussel
populations by serving as a host for certain larvae. Other
fish, particularly smallmouth bass, benefit from hogsucker
eating habits by feeding on organisms released when
hogsuckers forage the river floor for their own food.
Hogsuckers have a reddish-brown coloring, which
serves as excellent camoflauge when they swim along river
bottoms. They are difficult to detect by both humans and
and hogsucker predators, such as catfish, racoons, and
Mating occurs only once a year, generally in warmer
months. Male hogsuckers reach sexual maturity during their
second year while females reach maturity in their third
year. Male hogsuckers will hollow a place for females to
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