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Hogs in the creek

by Bradly Gill | June 14, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

Jim Hightower, the Texas writer, wrote in a recent newsletter, "The water won't clear up until you get the hogs out of the creek." Well, I love that comment, and I started thinking about who are the hogs in our creeks or rivers?

Of course, when I walk out on the El Dorado 167 Bypass to get my exercise, and see all the trash on the side of the road, I know the folks who tossed out the beer cans, plastic cups and other trash are the hogs in that creek, and those hogs are probably the most numerous of all of them.

Yes, the highway right-of-ways would clear up if those hogs would get out of the creek. But as bad as our roadsides look, the roadside thrashers aren't the only hogs in our creeks. Let's take a close look at some other hogs in the creek.

Let's start with a biggie: the coal-fired electrical generating plants, but not just in Arkansas. The ones in Arkansas are bad enough, but combined with the ones over in East Texas, the plants are putting a lot of mercury in the air from coal and lignite burning, and that mercury falls out into the waters of our creeks and rivers. The mercury in Arkansas fish is from those plants, and until the coal fired or lignite fired electrical generating plants switch to non-polluting emissions these plants will continue to be "super hogs in the creek."

And while we're stepping on some toes, let's throw a rock in the thicket and see if the hit dog will howl. How about plastic waste? You know, the plastic sacks, plastic straws, plastic cups and other throw away one-use items? Those are massive hogs in our creeks and until we stop using them or recycle them, every time you use a plastic straw or plastic bag you will be feeding the hogs in the creek. The huge plastic rafts floating in our oceans and fouling our beaches are the direct result of those hogs in the creek.

Did you just howl?

Next, let's look at Springdale and the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority. Wow, that a big hog to be in the creek, but this creek just happens to be the Illinois River Watershed, and the creek is the Illinois River. The area wastewater is loaded with phosphorus. As the northwest part of our state grows without upgrading the waste water discharges the hogs in the creek will continue to pollute the Illinois River. Unless the folks in NW Arkansas ante up some dough, those hogs in the creek will continue to grow, and the Illinois River will become a pig trough.

And by the way, the folks over in Oklahoma are really upset because we are feeding the hogs who are polluting the river as it flows into their state.

Another hog in the creek just happens to be the regulatory body who is responsible for a big feral hog and CWD deer problem. Yep, that's the Game and Fish Commission which is just saying, "Bad pig! Bad pig," to control the feral hog population, and they are asking deer to keep "social distance," to combat the CWD deer apocalypse. Can't you guys just help Mother Nature by recognizing the cougar population, bring in more apex predators, and put a bounty on feral hogs? By the way, that would bring back our quail and help the turkeys survive.

The biggest hog in the creek or river, is the Army Corp of Engineers. The "Keep Busy Boys" or the "River Killers" as they are known are wreaking havoc on our rivers. (See my May 22 column.)

Another hog is an unlikely one, the Arkansas Waterways Commission. They have an elephant in the room that they are trying to ignore. The disaster occurring on the non-navigable Ouachita River, caused by the Felsenthal locks, is creating a dangerous situation as erosion from the high water is causing a huge number of trees to fall into the river. You hogs need to take your heads out of the sand.

Now let's get spiritual.

"I don't believe in Global Warming," I heard a friend say.

Yes, folks, no matter whether you believe or call it "climate change," it is a huge hog in the creek, and if we don't get rid of that hog our grandchildren will be subject to a super rash of hurricanes, tornadoes and sea level rises. This is not an invisible hog; it's a hog that is getting bigger and bigger every day and it will continue to grow unless we slow down the heating of our planet. Earth is warming and that is an absolute fact, as scientific as gravity.

The entire Arkansas legislature is a huge hog in the creek. No moratorium on the Buffalo River Watershed and no environmental bills. They are responsible for 90% of the roadside trash by not outlawing plastic one use containers and not making beer bottles returnable. This fall I'm going to vote against every incumbent I can.

I've written here about some of the hogs in the creek, but I have only scratched the surface. I'm sure you could list another 15 or 20 hogs. But now let's get serious. As Pogo the cartoon possum said "We have met the enemy, and it is us."

Of course Pogo was exactly right, and unless we recognize we are the problem, and try to do something about it, the problem will only get worse. I know some of the stuff I've written sounds as if it is a regulatory problem, but regulators are us, and they are hogs in the creek just like we are.

I believe "getting the hogs out of the creek" is the mark of a civilized society, and my travels to third world countries, where garbage and trash are just piled up everywhere and where just surviving is a daily struggle, and to countries in Western Europe where the hogs in the creek are as rare as the ivory bill woodpecker, confirms that an advanced civilized society has a lot fewer hogs in the creek.

I firmly believe we are not as socially civilized as our neighbors in Europe. I drove into downtown El Dorado last Saturday morning and two parking places right in front of the courthouse had around a half dozen beer cans. We are the only superpower in the world and the most technologically advanced, and have the strongest military in the world, but that doesn't make us the most civilized.

If we are to get our hogs out of the creek, we must create an atmosphere of a civilized society that won't accept roadside trash or plastic bags, or beer cans in front of the courthouse.

However, more regulations won't solve the problem. It requires a grindingly slow change of attitude, and unless we have that mental change, it will be a long time before we get all of our hogs out of the creek. We must change one person at a time, and when we reach that level of civilization, we won't have any more hogs in our creeks, and we won't have any more school children murdered.

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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