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To the Editor:

This river is one of very few inland rivers within the boundary of the state of Illinois. It is 156 miles long, passes through Rend Lake and eventually joins the great Mississippi. It is called the Big Muddy for a reason: It has a mud bottom for the most most part, and drains a 2,344-square-mile watershed. Although it appears unfit for human consumption, the water quality was assessed as "fair to good" in 1995.

My property in Murphysboro overlooks the Big Muddy. Frequently, I observe fishermen, kayaks, canoes, jet skies, ski and pontoon boats, and occasional hikers and campers making their journey along this river enjoying the beautiful scenery and experiencing the abundance of wildlife and forest area that abounds. The deer, waterfowl, wildlife, etc., is very plentiful and allows so many to just marvel at their presence and behaviors. Very few things are more beautiful than observing the great bald eagles fish and bathe in the river and annually bear young and teach them survival skills that should ensure the species' existence for the future.

The actions of so few can affect so many. Decisions made concerning the Big Muddy to possibly be used as a dumping source of hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted chemical liquids by a local coal mine will have an everlasting effect on the many humans, wildlife, adjoining forests and watersheds, and the Mississippi River which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

This is a wake-up call for local folks to start protecting our God-given planet for the sake of all mankind. Please contact your local mayor, state representative, Department of Natural Resources, governor's office, or any organization that you can sound off to before it is too late.

Michael L. Duncan

Murphysboro

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