SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Rep. Steve Womack teams up with the Environmental Protection Agency to bring attention to one of Northwest Arkansas’ main natural arteries.

Womack says the Illinois River is integral to the ecology of Northwest Arkansas. He invited EPA Regional Administrator Earthea Nance to tour the area including the headwaters near Cave Springs.

Nance says even though the area’s rapid growth is a good thing, people shouldn’t lose sight of conservation.

“Trying to balance that growth with a clean environment and with restoration of streams and with other stewardship activities,” Dr. Earthea Nance said.

“The Illinois River is an important part of everything we do in Northwest Arkansas. A lot of the metropolitan area drains into the Illinois River watershed,” Womack said.

After checking out the river, Nance and Womack went south to Fayetteville for a tour of the University of Arkansas sustainability program.