Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 23, 2014

OSRC to review management plan

TAHLEQUAH — The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission published its Illinois River Management Plan in 1999, and OSRC Chairman Gerald Hilsher believes it’s time for a review.

During a meeting Tuesday evening, Hilsher proposed hosting a public forum for river basin stakeholders and interested professional, industrial, academic and government entities to review the plan and evaluate its efficacy.

“I believe the commission has done a lot, but I also think it’s a good opportunity to let other folks speak, including stakeholders, community members and visitors,” said Hilsher. “We can formulate a report that highlights what we’ve accomplished, what we can do better, and what challenges we may face in the future.”

Hilsher suggested the forum include mail-in and email comments from anyone interested in participating.

“I’m looking to hold a candid discussion, and hopefully, we can maybe involve Northeastern State University to assist with the report,” said Hilsher. “I mean, what a wonderful project it could be to involve students, graduate students and others across academic lines. We could involve economics, tourism, environmental, biology to help us once we receive input from the public.”

Hilsher wants to form an OSRC subcommittee to get the ball rolling, and would like to have a forum no later than September or October.

“Maybe we can get a report out before the Legislature convenes next year,” said Hilsher. “We want to ask people to give us a grade and tell us how we’re doing.”

Commissioner Randy Corp supported Hilsher’s proposal.

“I think this is an excellent idea; it might engage people,” said Corp. “I think it would be very informative, and I’ll make whatever contacts I can within the Legislature to seek input.”

Ed Brocksmith, former OSRC commissioner and founding member of Save The Illinois River Inc., also supports the proposal.

“I think this is a tremendous thing to do,” said Brocksmith. “STIR would love to help and I believe the committee will be an important element. We need to let people know the goals of the commission, and if STIR can help with that, we will.”

Hilsher made a motion to move forward with forming a subcommittee, which was seconded by Corp and approved by the seven commissioners attending the meeting.

tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

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