Geese are monogamous, living in permanent pairs throughout the year. Out of nowhere the proud parents and their goslings began marching across Highway 10 in the fog in front of me. They were at the gawky hairy tall stage, still featherless. I stopped just in time to avoid hitting them, pulled to the side of the road to flash my lights to oncoming traffic since one of the goslings had run back off the road. He was just barely missed by the big double cab truck but his second attempt in the fog, the little guy made it!
As the Tar Creekkeeper and, partly due to LEAD Agency's Grand Lake Mercury Study, relationships were built with fishermen and women who eat local fish and love our rivers and especially our Grand Lake. If they see anyone messing with our waters and her water quality, they let us know and quickly.
One of these fishermen called about stuff being shoveled into the lake this week. After hearing his description, I called 1-800-522-0206 the DEQ Hotline to make a complaint, not an anonymous complaint but one with my name on it so DEQ will send a letter with the details, what they found and what were the results for the action on the person or company who was found to be responsible.
I headed to Grove to "have a gander" at the actions cited in the incidence report my name was on. The Sailboat bridge had been resurfaced with an overlay and the material that had not stuck was left by the side of the roadway. When the car got onto the bridge, Emerson Taylor, a University of Arkansas graduate summer intern with LEAD, as a grand example of his generation, lowered his window and began recording the exchange with the men on the bridge while watching shovel after shovel of the substance being flung over the railings.
I yelled at them to stop doing it, the rare and absurd sound in my ears, was sort of like "Sa Sa" in Cherokee, the word for goose and if you have ever upset one, you may have heard that sound as they sort of hiss at you in a menacing manner, but the men really YELLED back and flagged us away as they continued their work. We saw the mass of stuff they had before them to remove and went to the bottom of the bridge to the company trucks with flashing lights but found no supervisors to engage.
According to a post by a local insurance agent the company received complaints about the substance sprayed on passing vehicles crossing the bridge during the application. Call 913-402-5326, reference claim # CBLo812 if a check on your paint and windshields reveals epoxy overspray. It feels like a very hard non-sticky tree-sap and won't wash away, needing specialized detailing to remove it.
What's so bad about shoveling that material into the lake? What is the concern? The fisherman told me that morning that he eats the fish from that spot and that was why he was concerned.
I will know if there were consequences to the company for loading the lake with the residue left from their work on the bridge. You might imagine I am hopeful that the company's "goose is cooked" with some consequence from either the DEQ or the Lake Patrol. Surely we can't all go to the bridge and fling whatever over without consequence. Wouldn't we need a permit? Did the company have a permit to discharge into the lake?
They were told by DEQ to stop and load everything and haul it away. But the fisherman called back later. They had gotten a wheelbarrow to make it easier to dump instead.
I called DEQ again and the Lake Patrol, 918-256-0911. They returned to ask if I was willing to testify about seeing the flingers if their officer didn't get there in time to witness himself. I said of course. Wouldn't you want to have a chance to confront a wrongdoer? Well, there is a bit of fear in saying yes. They were really loud YELLERS and they welded a quick shovel. But I said yes and yes again when asked if I could identify them in court.
The gaggle of geese got away, as we would want. And perhaps the company will get away with their lake discharge. But this evening the fisherman's wife told me she had contacted the game warden to be alert to dead birds who may experience consequences from the shoveled material that was flung from the bridge. And in a couple of weeks, I will receive a letter in the mail to find out what came from the complaint.
Miami High School students lined up to watch flashing lights on police cars coming down Central Avenue and behind them a yellow school bus, loaded with students heading to the Special Olympics in Stillwater. The student body was out there waving them on! We have come a long way in acceptance and I think a lot of that comes from good leadership, with a salute to Mrs. Lisa Munson on one of her last days as MHS principal, before all her graduates and herself fling out of here. Job Well Done!
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
Rebecca Jim is the executive director of the LEAD Agency (www.leadagency.org).