The mission of the Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC (SLEC, LLC) is to advocate for responsible environmental management of the land, lakes, waterways and other natural resources of Steuben County.
The vision of SLEC, LLC, is to maintain strong property values, government services, recreational opportunities, tourism, and business investments in our local economy, while protecting and preserving the beautiful natural resources of Steuben County.
SLEC is a subsidiary of Fawn River Restoration and Conservation Charitable Trust ("Fawn River Trust"). Fawn River Trust is a Not-For-Profit 501(c)(3) organization. Fawn River Trust works with a variety of private, public and governmental partners to restore damaged rivers and conserve them in as near to native condition as possible.
Recent trends in agriculture have resulted in the Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). A CAFO raises thousands of animals in a confined space. Due to the large number of animals, they produce large amounts of manure and wastewater. They store all of this manure and wastewater in a storage structure and eventually apply it to nearby fields.Environmental Concerns:
- Manure leakage from storage facilities
- Air pollution (hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, inhalable particlates, and endotoxin)
- Runoff from application sites
- Disposal of mortality
- Drinking water contamination
- Recreational and wetlands water contamination (toxic algae blooms/blue green algae)
- Risk to endangered species
- Transmission of diseases
- Fish kills
- Blue-baby syndrome
- Foul odors
- Respiratory disease
- Loss in quality of life
- Loss in property values
- Decreased property tax receipts
- Decline in tourism
- Decreased sales tax receipts
- Increased cost of road and bridge repair
Thomas Danford, Managing Director & Spokesperson
I became involved at the request of our lake association. I wanted to have a balanced approach so I looked over several web sites such as Purdue's. I talked to many friends in the agricultural industry. And then I started researching others experiences with neighboring operations such as those which are referenced on this website. As a result of this research I became alarmed at what I found and concerned at the impact this could have on our lake community and the high quality of life we enjoy and cherish.- Thomas Danford, CPA
Allen Lefevre, Managing Director
As President of the Lake Gage-Lime Lake Association, I became involved against the CAFO to try to protect our lakes. We have used LARE funds and our Association's money to improve the water quality of our lakes. The CAFO could defeat those efforts. We are also concerned about the air quality. Our lakes are downwind from the proposed site and the air can contain unhealthy gases and odors. Finally, there was the potential devaluation in our property values. No one wants to see a drop in value of their lake residence. These factors combined made joining this cause a no brainer!- Allen Lefevre, President of the Lake Gage-Lime Lake Association
Steuben County is called "Land of 101 Lakes" and is known for excellent water quality. There are also many pristine wetlands, and other sensitive areas where endangered, threatened, rare species live and depend on great water quality to survive. Many of our lakes and wetlands are fed by springs that are recharged from ground water. My one and only purpose of serving on the SLEC board is to help preserve and protect our natural resources, ground / lake / drinking water, and the health of Steuben County residents.- Dave Bruns, President, Pine Canyon Lake Association.
Initially, I thought everyone was making a big deal about nothing. I figured government regs would make sure a large farm operates as safely as the family farm on which I grew up. And, what's a little "good country air"? Farmers have been spreading manure for centuries! But as I listened and read articles (pro and con), I realized these are factories, not farms; that the waste can be toxic to our water and soil; and that the laws are not adequate to protect our health or this beautiful corner of God's earth. I urge you to educate yourself by reading the links on our website -- and elsewhere -- and then let us know you are with us and will help us spread the word.- Kathy Bruns, retired school administrator
I have volunteered to serve on the SLEC as a representative of Crooked Lake. I am a full time resident of a very special place and feel my obligation to protect it for generations to come. I was raised on a farm and have the greatest respect for farmers. This county is very unique and my goal is to be a good steward of this wonderful natural resource.- Trishia Stites
I volunteered to participate at the first meeting I attended because of the obvious potential for the ruination of our beautiful lakes. I believe my engineering and business experience can contribute to the preservation of our natural resources. To paraphrase a famous quote,"All that is necessary for a polluting hog factory to succeed is for men to stand by and do nothing".- David Rollins, Manager, Business Excellence, Eaton Corp.
My family and I have been year round residences in Steuben County since 1998. My wife and I own several properties on and around Crooked and Jimmerson Lake. Additionally I am a licensed realtor and make my lively hood assisting buyers and sellers in our four county MLS but consider Steuben County to be my home base county. I have thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years in the real estate market and we have created some great memories with our children and family in 101 Lakes Country. I believe we are privileged to be able to enjoy the quality of life we have on the lakes but with that comes the responsibility to be good stewards. By that I mean we have an obligation to protect our greatest natural resources in Steuben County, our lakes and water. I am honored to be part of an initiative that has its' primary focus of protecting the environmental assets for years to come for future generations to enjoy the area like we have.- Mark Pontecorvo, Realtor
I grew up on a family farm in Van Wert, Ohio. After high school I moved to Mercer County, Ohio where Grand Lake St. Marys is located. Even prior to living near the lake, I enjoyed spending my time fishing and skiing on Grand Lake. I moved to Angola in 2002 prior to the outbreak of toxic algae blooms. The ensuing devastation has been traced to run-off of manure and fertilizers. We have visited Grand Lake on occasion and have been shocked to see and smell the results. I have learned that our state regulations here in Indiana will not prevent this. It is up to us, Steuben County residents and officials, to prevent this from happening here!- Mark Roediger, IT Professional