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Illinois Sierra Club
2009 River Hero
Cindy Skrukrud has lived the past 22 years in the glacial hills of Northern Illinois overlooking the mighty Nippersink Creek, a tributary to the Fox River of southern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Along with her work with Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, Environmental Law & Policy Center and Openlands to protect streams and wetlands throughout Illinois, working with fellow citizens and other stakeholders to protect the Nippersink and streams throughout the Fox River watershed has been her greatest source of fun (and sometimes frustration!).
Cindy is currently working to establish the first National Wildlife Refuge in the Chicago region within the Nippersink watershed in IL and WI. For the past six years, she has chaired the Fox River Study Group, a multi-stakeholder group working to study the conditions of the Fox River and to figure out the most cost effective means to clean up problems on the Fox and prevent future ones. We've teamed up with the sewage treatment plant operators we used to just battle with. For the past year, she has helped to form a similar multistakeholder group in the Hickory Creek watershed, another river south of Chicago facing development pressures. I spend lots of my time cajoling officials to do a bit more than to reduce the pollution that their towns discharge to streams from their sewage treatment plants and stormwater systems. Out of such negotiations, the Village of Antioch was the first town in Illinois to adopt a ban on phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizer; now a dozen other towns have followed suit and we see the trend continuing to grow.
Through the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels program, Cindy has worked with hundreds of volunteers on river cleanups, fishing events, water testing, has trained folks to monitor construction sites to prevent soil erosion and sediment runoff and to use Clean Water Act tools to comment on permits for wastewater discharges and wetland fills. Right now she is working with Ducks Unlimited on their update of the National Wetlands Inventory for Illinois. DU has six staff working in a windowless room circling wetlands on aerial photos; volunteers are having the fun of going out and covering the state field checking their work by visiting over 6000 wetlands!
Cindy lives with her remarkably tolerant husband, Tom, and way too many cats in a 100 year-old farmhouse.