Prairie Rivers Network Ready To Mark 50 Years, Sees Its Role As Important As Ever

The Sangamon River at Allerton Park.

A view of the Sangamon River at Allerton Park near Monticello. 50 years ago, the Prairie Rivers Network was formed to fight a U-S Army Corps proposal to dam the river and flood the park.

Flick/Vince Smith/ (CC BY 2.0)

On Sunday (May 21), the Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network will mark its 50th anniversary, with an afternoon of events at Allerton Park, near Monticello.

Spokesman Jeff Kohmstedt said the Champaign-based environmental group believes its work is increasingly important, as President Donald Trump’s administration promises to cut back Environmental Protection Agency oversight.

“Prairie Rivers Network has joined in an EPA lawsuit that’s challenging the administration’s rollback of critical protection against coal power plant waste,” Kohmstedt said, referring to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

The group traces its beginning to Allerton Park. Prairie Rivers was founded to stop an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to dam the Sangamon River to build a reservoir there.

“It would have submerged hundreds of acres of Allerton and also the surrounding farmland,” Kohmstedt said.

It took 18 years, but Prairie Rivers kept the dam from being built.

Kohmstedt says Prairie Rivers’ membership is aging. The group hopes to draw younger people to events like Sunday’s anniversary celebration.

Sunday’s events will run from noon until 4 p.m. and are open to the public.

Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Prairie Rivers Network is among many area organizations that support Illinois Public Media through underwriting. IPM's newsroom is editorially independent and funders play no role in editorial decisions or coverage.

Story source: WILL