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CAFO hog farm proposed near Sandy Creek, IL

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#1 Guest_BenCantrell_*

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:54 PM

I was hoping to post a nice short fishing report about Sandy Creek from last Friday, but this morning I saw an article in the local newspaper about a CAFO hog farm that's proposed to be built upstream of my favorite fishing spots. Here are a few articles as well as some discussion on the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance forums:


Last fall I sampled a half mile stretch of Sandy Creek by myself with nothing but a perfect dip net and a crappie pole rigged with a microhook. In just a few hours I found these species:
  • creek chub
  • sand shiner
  • red shiner
  • spotfin shiner
  • emerald shiner
  • central stoneroller
  • suckermouth minnow
  • southern redbelly dace
  • bluntnose minnow
  • blacknose dace
  • fantail darter
  • johnny darter
  • rainbow darter
  • orangethroat darter
  • mud darter
  • banded darter
  • blackside darter
  • logperch
  • blackstripe topminnow
  • western mosquitofish
  • shorthead redhorse
  • golden redhorse
  • northern hogsucker
  • quillback
  • highfin carpsucker
  • black buffalo
  • smallmouth buffalo
  • freshwater drum
  • common carp
  • grass carp
  • channel catfish
  • white bass
  • smallmouth bass
  • largemouth bass
  • bluegill
  • green sunfish
  • readear sunfish
If the hog factory is built, it will only be a matter of time before nature's wonderful fertilizer (pig sh--) ends up in Sandy Creek. I would venture a guess that the list of species will be much shorter afterword. I'm still pretty new to NANFA, so if any of the other state reps or other members have dealt with situations like this before, any advice would be welcome. I'll check with the DNR if they have any recent sampling data to add to mine, and then perhaps we can put together a report highlighting the species diversity in the creek.

From Friday (4/18/2014):

shorthead redhorse
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golden redhorse
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From last fall (9/29/2014):

Sandy Creek
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red shiner
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suckermouth minnow
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mud darter
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banded darter
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northern clearwater crayfish
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#2 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 07:29 AM

Not only would the creek get enhanced organic material, it would get bacteria with multiple drug resistance from the way that antibiotics are overused at commercial feed lots. Those kinds of bacteria always tend to spread....

#3 Guest_Uland_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 09:20 AM

Yikes Ben, I wish I had words of wisdom for you, but I don't.
Lets get there and record what we can before it's gone. That's a nice group of fish by the way.

#4 Guest_BenCantrell_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 09:45 AM

I think we can make a strong case for how important tributaries like Sandy Creek are to the health of the Illinois River. The redhorse we were catching on Friday were spawning - just look at how fat that female shorthead is. I bet a large percentage of the fish in my list need good tributaries like that to successfully spawn. In the creek the natives far outnumbered the non-natives (I saw only one grass carp and a couple small common carp compared to hundreds of buffalo, redhorse, and quillback). If we want native roughfish to compete in the Illinois River, they need to be able to spawn.

#5 Guest_jblaylock_*

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 10:29 AM

That's sad to hear that one of your favorite creeks could essentially be destroyed. Enjoy it while you can. I wish there was more we could do to protect our waterways.

#6 Guest_RuoxiLi_*

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 11:31 AM

Three things:

First, it looks like a hog factory built near a different IL creek, the panther creek, has been killing local fish for a while now:


Second, this is where you can find out more about the sandy creek hog farm proposal:


choose "marshall county" in the county srolldown list and you will find that sandy creek hog farm proposal.

Third, it seems that one can do two things to stop the hog farm:

1) talk to your state legislator; because hog farm approval is not subject to public comment, you can't go to the department of argriculture's website and submit your disapproval. You will need to talk to your local senator and assembly members and have him/her convey your concern and put pressure on the DOA. The two legislators representing Marshall county:

Representative David R. Leitch (73rd District)
314 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: Fax: (217)557-3047
5407 N. University
Arbor Hall Suite B
Peoria, IL 61614
Phone: Fax: (309)690-7375
Senator Darin LaHood (37th District)
M103F Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: Fax: (217)782-9586
5415 N University, Ste. 105
Peoria, IL 61614
Phone: Fax: (309)693-4923

This is where you can find more local rep's contact information:

2) join online communities for a grassroots campaign. In addition to what Ben posted in the original post, there are also facebook pages that you can find and discuss future courses of action.

Btw, I am the one holding the golden redhorse in Ben's pictures...

Edited by RuoxiLi, 22 April 2014 - 11:32 AM.

#7 Guest_BenCantrell_*

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 12:22 PM

Thanks Ruoxi, that's very helpful!

Here's a Save Our Sandy facebook page that is covering the issue.

#8 Guest_Erica Lyons_*

Guest_Erica Lyons_*
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Posted 22 April 2014 - 01:42 PM

What kind of solutions are there for directing or cleaning the runoff from land to prevent it from killing aquatic organisms downstream?

#9 Guest_blakemarkwell_*

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 03:40 PM

I commend the grassroots activism, but it's a steep uphill battle at best. Unfortunately, representatives by and large deal a better hand to invested stakeholders than concerned citizens. The finding of an endangered species could give you some teeth to protect the system, but I don't see any aquatic herps or fish in Marshall County that fall under that classification.

#10 Guest_Uland_*

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 06:56 PM

What kind of solutions are there for directing or cleaning the runoff from land to prevent it from killing aquatic organisms downstream?

I'm no expert, but I gather the pig farm will hold the slurry of feces and urine in ponds until it can be used locally on crops. Again, I don't know a whole lot, but some obvious problems seem to be accidental discharge directly from the pig farming operation (pond levee breaking would be really bad) and also fertilizer (feces and urine) being over applied locally and/or runoff. In any case, I doubt the fertilizer ever makes it very far from the farm, leaving the feces from nearly 3400 pigs in relative close proximity.

I hate to say it, but if you run this operation off, another will pop up and do the same thing to another stream. Can't get away from the fact that more and more people live longer and longer. And most of them like bacon.

#11 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:34 AM

There are ways to contain the poop etc., but they require both competence and capital outlay. Those are two very big ifs. The poultry industry has pretty much ruined streams in east Alabama in the middle Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa drainages by continuous runoff. We learned when looking for streams still supporting Funduls bifax that if our Google Earth search of an area before a trip showed the distinctive bright "H" shapes of large industrial chicken or turkey barns, don't bother looking in nearby streams since they'd invariably have a layer of goo on the substrate.

#12 Guest_Erica Lyons_*

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:58 AM

There are ways to contain the poop etc., but they require both competence and capital outlay. Those are two very big ifs.

What is the feasibility of working with the hog farm to prevent runoff contamination? For example, the local government could offer several years of tax subsidies if the hog farm invested some money now during the building phase in runoff water cleanliness infrastructure.

I work in a booming downtown area where they for some reason let me sit in on a few of the city planning meetings (not sure why; I'm nobody important). During those meetings, I learned about these tax subsidy programs where the city government could tax the company less if they build something that costs them money now while moving in that the city wants done. This results in long term money for the company and immediate benefit to the city.

If this hog waste could be sold as manure, then holding ponds and a packaging facility might be able to turn waste into a sellable product. I don't know how that would work, but it sounds interesting. Everybody loves a new product to sell, and friendlier neighbors. If reducing ecological impact and neighborhood ire could be coupled with generation of a sellable product and tax subsidies until then, everybody wins.

#13 Guest_Uland_*

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:30 AM

This is Illinois we're talking about. They have laws, they can't enforce, they spend what they don't have, and can't account for any of it. It's the incompetent leading the incompetent and I don't know of any local governments that can afford subsidies to be honest. But I digress; Illinois has laws about how you hold pig feces and urine, we have laws about how much fertilizer is applied and how often but even then, accidents happen and sometimes the law is ignored. If you've ever been downwind of a hog farm, you'll know just how salable pig feces are to the general public. If you contain it like it matters, and you apply the fertilizer far and wide, you could mitigate contamination. The only answer is stop making babies and stop eating pork (in this particular case).

#14 Isaac Szabo

Isaac Szabo
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Posted 23 April 2014 - 08:01 PM

I'm very sorry to hear that this is happening on your local stream, Ben. I really hope you are able to do something to stop it, but as others have said, it's likely going to be an uphill battle. Sadly, the interests of the general public are all too often at odds with the health of the natural systems that people like us care so much about. It's the story of humankind's interaction with the natural world for the last couple of centuries. Not that it's not worth fighting, though - especially at the local level where it is affecting you directly.

A very similar issue is currently occurring here in Arkansas on the Buffalo National River. A large CAFO hog farm has been built on Big Creek, just a few miles from it's confluence with the Buffalo. The hog farm was quietly approved without the public's knowledge or input. Even the administrators of the Buffalo National River were unaware of it. The farm will produce something like 2 million gallons of waste per year, roughly equivalent to the waste generated from a city of 13,000 people. The waste will be spread out on local fields, most of which are directly adjacent to Big Creek, again just a few miles from the Buffalo. Obviously, the Buffalo is in danger of being contaminated by holding pond failures, waste field runoff, and groundwater nutrient pollution (lots of porous limestone here). One way or another, there is no way the Buffalo won't be negatively affected. However, despite a significant grassroots campaign, all attempts to stop the operation have failed. It seems that the hog farm has not broken any laws. It baffles me that a National River doesn't have better protection. Here is the website for the local organization fighting the hog farm: http://www.buffaloriveralliance.org/. They may have some helpful advice for you.

#15 Guest_Skipjack_*

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:25 PM

Very impressive species list, Ben. Keep us updated if it dwindles.

With any luck, the slurry ponds will hold, and local farmers are interested in spraying hog slurry on their fields. Otherwise good luck, hog farms bring in more tax dollars than redhorse. If there were/are any T&E species on that list, your battle would be worth fighting. In my county in Ohio, I can legally let my cattle wallow in a creek that crosses my property. Obviously we would not consider that, and keep them fenced out, but many do not. We have actually canoed down streams in Ohio, dodging cattle as we go.

#16 Guest_Mike_*

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 11:39 AM

It doesn't look like any of those fish are endangered or threatened in Illinois, maybe look for other creatures like salamanders, frogs, turtles, mussels, etc..

Here is the list: http://www.dnr.illin...ecklist2011.pdf

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