Save the Illinois River
I grew up in north Louisiana and had never been to Tahlequah or seen the Illinois River until the summer of 1965, when I drove up to interview for a position of Instructor in English at Northeastern State University.
I had fished and floated some Ouachita Mountain streams in the past, particularly the Little Missouri and had sampled a few similar streams in several states. But when I crossed the bridge over the Illinois to reach Tahlequah I wanted to stop and wade in it before putting on a suit and going in to interview!
During the interview with college officials I was asked why I would want to come there to teach and leave a similar position I had held only one year at Delta State University at Cleveland, Mississippi.
I blurted out that seeing the Illinois River had sold me on the move. Every person on that faculty committee burst out with the same thought! All loved the environment of Tahlequah and wanted never to leave.
Many people in Northwest Arkansas don't realize that the Illinois is Oklahoma's Buffalo River. Driving south through eastern Oklahoma from Tahlequah to my parents' home the following two years I got to know Mountain Fork and other magnificent Oklahoma streams. But the Illinois was my first and I can't believe the degradation it has sustained since that time.
So check out the S.T.I.R. site. You may decide to substitute a float on the Illinois for one of your trips to the Buffalo this year. Fayetteville is closer to Tahlequah than to Jasper on the Buffalo. And Fayetteville provides a lot of the water to the Illinois, including a lot of silt from our recent decades of poorly managed growth.