What next?

That’s a fair question. As I come to the end of two years of “River Rant” blog posts, I ask myself if it is worth carrying on with so much else going on in the world.

To aid in my assessment, I went back and reviewed the previous 36 posts, bi-monthly in year one, and monthly during year two, to see what I’ve been ranting about.

Well, at top of the list were Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and their incompatibility with the karst topography of the Ozarks.

In particular, we followed the 6,500-pig CAFO along the Buffalo River, the degradation it caused, and the ultimate victory in having it shut down. This was a rare “win” in a season of few.

I also bemoaned the elimination of so many environmental protections, both locally and and nationally, and the implications for Ozarkian waters.

I shuddered at politicians’ hypocrisy and double-speak, their encroachments on local control in Missouri counties at the behest of corporate agriculture and their lobbyists — and citizens’ legal actions in response.

So, I’ve had fun, despite our tragic national and local environmental regression.

And yet, when I wondered if there was anything more to rant about, up popped a couple of new travesties.

 

A low-water bridge presents danger for floaters along Bull Creek. (Courtesy of Loring Bullard)


The first involves one of my favorite local streams to float: A pristine and beautiful gem named Bull Creek, and a low-water bridge that was constructed over it several years back. It virtually dams the creek, is unsightly and difficult to portage in normal flows, but downright dangerous at high tide. And, it is on you before you have any sense of its existence or danger.

Three floaters have already drowned after clearing it and being sucked back beneath its overflow. Two more narrowly avoided the same fate early this spring, and had to be rescued by Taney County authorities. We found the orange kayak of one of the lucky ones wrapped around a tree on a late May float.

The bridge’s owner seemed initially unperturbed, but then talk of personal liability got him passing the blame to the contractor who built it, and promising to fix it. The design was approved by the Corps of Engineers’ regional office in Little Rock, over the objections of the Missouri Department of Conservation. He just recently agreed to allow a warning sign to be posted on his property 500 feet upstream. 

Thank you, Loring Bullard, President of the Schoolcraft Chapter of the Ozark Society, for making this warning sign happen. 

The danger, however, still exists. The bridge simply never should have been and hopefully it will be modified or eliminated before more tragedy strikes. Be very careful if you are floating Bull Creek in high water.

 

Loring Bullard (Courtesy of Loring Bullard)


And then there was the extremely disappointing news that the lawsuit Hickory Neighbors filed against Trenton Farms to overturn HB1713 — which eliminated the requirement for a majority of independent members on the Missouri Clean Water Commission — was dismissed by the Missouri Supreme Court.  

While I was Chair of the commission in 2015, we denied a permit for this CAFO on the outskirts of Trenton, Mo., and had our decision upheld by a court of appeals. What did the politicians do? They passed HB1713, and the governor fired those of us who voted to deny. He replaced us with corporate agriculture interests, who immediately approved the CAFO permit.

Bottom line: The Missouri Clean Water Commission is still stacked. 

***

All that said, after thinking about it, I have decided to transition my “rants” from monthly to a “need-to-post” basis for a while. 

I’ve got plenty to keep me fired up with a new book coming out this fall, THE POSSE, A Story of Love and Resistance. Here’s a teaser: 

Set ten years in the future, THE POSSE speaks to the devastation wrought on a quaint and historic landscape and way of life by unchecked and unregulated corporate agriculture and factory farming, the money and greed that nourish the beast, and the broad international conspiracy that birthed it. 

Cloaked in secrecy and executed behind closed doors, an incredibly complex global power play, credible in the context of here and now, enriches a few, plays on the innocent and naive for sustenance, fouls precious water resources and local environments, and destroys whole communities.

Piqued your interest? It will be available on my website, toddparnell.com, along with other recent publications. Hope you will check it out.

I also still have to reschedule the release of my new trilogy, “Children of the Creek,” which was due out April 1 during a release party, and fell victim to “stay-at-home” orders.  And I almost forgot the novel I’m working on now, “CoronaLove.” (You can guess what that’s about.) Lots to keep me busy… 

I have enjoyed ranting about waters of the Ozarks these past two years, sharing victories and defeats along with personal testimony as to what they mean to me. 

And, if I have fueled anyone’s passion to stand up and protect these precious waters for future generations, this will have been both fun, and worthwhile.

Signing off for now with a plea to protect Ozarkian waters with all your heart.