Locals Push For Stricter Alcohol-Related Rules On Illinois River
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - Some people in Green Country are pushing for stricter rules along the Illinois River.
Many who live along the banks say floaters drinking too much alcohol on the river are making it dangerous.
Tuesday, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commissions held a meeting to talk about what it would take to implement new rules.
The Illinois River is where rafters, canoers and kayakers come for fun that, often times, involves alcohol. But all the drinking, Jerry Hammons said, is taking fun and safety away from the locals.
“They don't go on the river anymore. Too many people, too many drunks and too many bad things you might see,” he said.
Hammons said he represents a large group of landowners who have property along the river and demand change.
“They're just kind of tired of the alcohol, tired of the misbehavior, tired what, what, you might see or what you might hear on the river,” Hammons said. ”They're tired of the people going up and down the highway drunk.”
The Scenic Rivers Commission said that’s why the chairman of the board proposed adjusting the rules, and during its Tuesday meeting, the board voted in favor of hearing public comments on the issue.
Some of the ideas included limiting each flotation device to only one ice chest - currently each person is allowed to bring a 50-quart cooler.
The commission said it's technically legal to have liquor on the river, but it's against the law to drink it - but that doesn't stop floaters from trying.
The board suggested banning all liquor and anything else with more than 3.2 percent alcohol content. It is also considering designating some days and areas of the river as alcohol-free.
If those changes can be made, locals like Hammons, say the river could once again provide a family-friendly time.
“They don't want to take their kids. Some that do take their kids say they'll never go again,” Hammons said.