Meeting with DNR director disappointing

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Editor:

On Wednesday, July 27, 2007, at the Barry County Courthouse, a short meeting with Doyle Childers, director of the Department of Natural Resources, and David Woolery, ombudsman, was "very interesting." Again, we found out that the DNR has little or no control over Missouri's natural resources. Most of the response from Mr. Childers, when questioned, was "I'll look into it," or "that doesn't fall within DNR guidelines."

When questioned about the Missouri Conservation Report that clearly states "there's a large amount of poultry waste already present in Roaring River" - zero response - it was evident that he didn't want to hear it and made no acknowledgment of the report.
When asked about new poultry houses going in next to Roaring River and questions about run-off and DNR authorizing the spread of chicken littler next to Roaring river, - the answer was - "they won't spread it when it rains," which brought about a collective chuckle. When asked repeatedly, who in DNR and how often poultry CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are monitored, it was a question he responded to but did not answer
At least three times, Doyle made the comment - "The big problem in this area are the people from California that have moved here that want to change things in Missouri. They need to go back to California." (Maybe he thought I was from California.) Possibly, the politicians in California, Oregon, Rhode Island and other states are more concerned about their natural resources and have refused to let large corporations push for economical development with little or no regard for natural resources.
I don't know about everyone at the meeting, but I have spent 40 years in Missouri and have enjoyed a house at the lake for 28 years. During this 40 years, the quality and quantity of the water in southwest Missouri has been on a steady decline. Doyle wants us to believe this is all due to people moving here and having faulty septic tanks. There's no doubt some water polluting is caused from septic tanks and that should be addressed. But, he didn't address the added number of poultry CAFOs over the last 10 years and the pollution they have caused.
In my previous life, I was responsible for the airworthiness of commercial jet engines as they left the airlines overhaul shop. When quality people from San Francisco, Atlanta or Dallas called to inform me of a potential problem with their jet engines, I didn't say "you worry about your engines and don't waste my time; I will run my own operation; we don't have a problem." The airlines share information as a means to acquire knowledge. If one engine shop finds a flaw in a repair process, they make the information available to the industry.

All Doyle needs to do is listen to the people from California, Indiana, Pennsyl-vania, Oklahoma, Arkansas and even the people living around the impaired water in western Missouri and learn from the mistakes. Make changes now, don't wait to have an "inflight shut down and have the plane fall out of the sky." God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we speak.

There was a gentleman at the meeting that has had a neighbor with an open septic discharge line for the last 12 years. He has asked for support to prevent the polluting next to his home. For 12 years, this open line has been discharging in a pit and then eventually into the lake, and our state and county organizations that should protect our natural resources have stood by without results.

When Doyle kept telling the people "it was out of his hands" and "the DNR didn't have the authority." a man in the room asked why, as director of the DNR, he couldn't draft a bill to give the DNR authority to protect the environment? The answer was, they could, but that is no guarantee it would pass.

In this meeting, Doyle said he had a problem with telling a man what he can do on his own property. The DNR is very concerned about the individual rights of the property owners with CAFOs. When are they going to start protecting the property rights of individual citizens that own property in the surrounding areas that are directly violated?

What about the people that pay taxes for our parks, the people that fish, swim and camp in Roaring River and the negative value effect of their land and home? Our politicians need to think more about the independent farmers and the majority of the people, not just the industrial big business CAFOs.

On a positive note, it was nice to see our representative David Sater present and refreshing to hear him voice his concerns about the large quantity of water used by the surrounding CAFOs.
After going to the meeting on Wednesday, my wife and myself took two grandchildren to Silver Dollar City. At the end of the "Circus on Ice." two very large American flags were unrolled and suspended, as the song, "I'm Proud to be an American" played loudly, and the whole crowd joined in singing. It gave me goose bumps. I served and am proud to be an American, but it made me think how proud can the people in responsible positions be, to stand by and let big corporate interests take over part of America?


James Riedel

Eagle Rock, Missouri