Last weekend, Sierra Club volunteers from around the state came together for our first Illinois Water Sentinels gathering, hosted by the Eagle View Group in the Quad Cities. The weekend included presentations from water experts, outings to explore the area and witness the impacts of flooding, plus opportunities to connect with one another over shared meals and social activities.
Speakers from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Augustana College, American Rivers, Living Lands and Waters, the Rock Island County Waste Management Agency and the Illinois Chapter of Sierra Club shared fascinating information about local, regional and statewide efforts to protect clean water, restore the health and resilience of our waterways, aquatic life and riverfront communities, and ensure safe drinking water for all. Presentation topics included:
- Freshwater mussel relocation in the Mississippi River;
- The story of Living Lands and Waters (a one-of-a-kind “industrial strength” river cleanup operation);
- Floodplain restoration and flood risk management;
- Addressing Illinois’ nutrient pollution problem through local and state action;
- Monitoring and communicating about water quality;
- Building student and community partnerships for clean water and public health;
- Better recycling (and reconsidering) to protect our waterways; and
- Organizing for water equity and justice and building a clean water campaign plan.
We also heard beautiful drumming and singing by Regina Tsosie who leads the Native American Coalition of the Quad-Cities and learned some of the history of Native Americans who first occupied the area. Historian Beth Carvey, who directed the Hauberg Indian Museum in Rock Island for 36 years, shared about the history of the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes during our evening at the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, which occupies much of the historic site of the village of Saukenuk, the home of a band of Native Americans of the Sauk nation.
The goals of the gathering were to provide opportunities for Sierra Club volunteers from around the state to come together and connect with each other, feel a sense of belonging to a broader statewide team of water protectors and be inspired and equipped to expand their local efforts to protect clean water.
Our water teams throughout the state do a variety of activities that bring communities together around local action for clean water. Activities include monitoring local rivers and streams, hosting beach and river clean-ups, advocating for federal funding for Great Lakes restoration and state funding for investments in clean water infrastructure, lobbying for legislation to protect water quality and ensure safe drinking water, and tabling at community events to share these initiatives with the public. Learn more about our water teams and how you can get involved here.
We appreciate every person who spent their weekend with us, and especially the Eagle View Group for hosting!