Prairie Rivers Network Honored as National Wildlife Federation Affiliate of Year

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Reston, Va. (May 8, 2014) – Prairie Rivers Network, based in Champaign, Ill., was recently named the National Wildlife Federation’s Affiliate of the Year for its successful conservation efforts that led to new protections from toxic coal ash, better oversight of factory farms, and the advancement of solutions to stop Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from wreaking havoc on U.S. waters.

“Prairie Rivers Network has been a powerful voice for conservation,” said Deborah Spalding, Chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors. “Their common-sense, science-based advocacy continues to produce results that benefit fish, wildlife, and people. Prairie Rivers Network is an exemplary steward, advocate, and partner. The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to collaborating with them for years to come.”

The Affiliate of the Year Award recognizes one NWF affiliate organization out of its network of 49 state affiliates for conservation accomplishments and contributions to collaborative efforts with NWF and its supporters. The National Wildlife Federation presented the award to Prairie Rivers Network at its annual meeting on Saturday in Baltimore.

“We’re thrilled that our work at Prairie Rivers Network is being honored,” said Glynnis Collins, executive director of Prairie Rivers Network. “Prairie Rivers Network will continue to stand up to protect the health and beauty of Illinois streams and waters so that they may be enjoyed by people, fish, and wildlife now and for generations to come.”

Prairie Rivers Network was recognized for its successful work to:

Stop the influx of aquatic invasive species. Prairie Rivers Network, with a coalition of conservation partners, helped advance the effort to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species like Asian carp through Chicago area canals.

Reduce sewage pollution into Illinois waters through a combination of direct negotiations with municipalities and legal challenges to inadequate agency oversight. Prairie Rivers Network also won new rules to protect users of the Chicago River from bacteria and viruses in sewage – culminating a decade of precedent-setting permit challenges at smaller facilities throughout the state.

Protect and restore natural places. Prairie Rivers Network helped create an Illinois Wildlife Action Plan along the Illinois section of the Mississippi River that—for the first time—sets the stage for state and federal land managers and local land trusts to coordinate habitat restoration and protection.

Protect waters from coal ash pollution. Because of Prairie Rivers Network’s leadership on highlighting the dangers of toxic coal ash pollution, Illinois state agencies have finally started to address the threat with proposed new rules, stepped up monitoring requirements, and structural integrity inspections. The group also helped thwart attempts to strip the U.S. EPA of its authority to protect clean water from toxic coal ash pollution.

Bringing the voices of Illinoisans to polluters, regulators and lawmakers. Prairie Rivers Network has a strong tradition of working closely with people harmed by water pollution and degradation to ensure pollution rules are enforced and to push for change when those laws don’t protect people and their water. The group has shared its scientific and legal expertise to help countless citizens be heard in the fight to protect clean water and healthy rivers.

Prairie Rivers Network has been a leading voice for conservation in Illinois since 1967 and the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate since 2001. Since their founding, Prairie Rivers Network has successfully defeated proposals to build dams, reservoirs, and other environmentally costly water projects that would have permanently altered the habitats of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. They have championed clean water across the state, leading efforts to improve clean water standards, review pollution permits, protect wetlands, reduce polluted runoff from farms and streets, and restore natural areas along rivers and streams.

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