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Oklahoma State University to study Illinois River

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State University is set to conduct a study on the impact of the number of people and boats on the popular Illinois River.

The Grand River Dam Authority approved the study to be carried out by the university's geography department last week, The Tulsa World ( ) reports.

The authority's vice president for scenic rivers and water quality, Ed Fite, says the last time the river's carrying capacity was analyzed was in the 1990s.

"It's something that hasn't been looked at since 1993-'98," said Fite. "That was the last time the carrying capacity we looked at, the number of boats and people who access the river commercially and privately. GRDA now is picking up where the (Oklahoma) Scenic Rivers Commission left off."

According to Fite, the study is about finding a balance of protecting the river and letting people use it for economic prosperity.

The population within the Illinois River basin has increased from 200,000 to nearly 600,000 since the 1990s, and Fite says projections predict exponential group in northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.

"The overall goal for GRDA that is paramount is to protect the river and its water quality and aquatic community, then they can guarantee the public will have a place they can enjoy in the future," Fite said.


Information from: Tulsa World,

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