Free Plant ID for Soil Health Training Series
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Oklahoma Soil Health partners are offering a series of 12 free Plant ID for Soil Health trainings on rangeland across the state. Attend a training near you to learn how to do "Cowboy ID" of common native plants, learn how plants work together, which plants are beneficial for livestock and more about prairie ecosystem dynamics. For more information call 405-522-4739, or to register contact a number on the flyer.
National contest puts STEM skills to the test
More than 100 FFA and 4H teams from across the country will converge on Oklahoma City May 3-5 for the 65th Annual National Land and Range Judging Contest. Qualifying teams from 34 states will challenge their knowledge of soil and plant science, land management and natural resources conservation in the field. Oklahoma is expected to send 10 teams to the event.
Officiation and on-site technical assistance for all three days of the contest is provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma State University and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
“These contestants represent the next generation of farmers, ranchers, conservationists and land managers,” said Steve Alspach, NRCS state soil scientist for Oklahoma. “Events like this are as much an opportunity for us to introduce high school students to a potential career with USDA as it is a STEM learning experience for them.”
STEM is a curriculum focused on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The contest is comprised of three events: land, range and home site evaluation. Land judging contestants will enter several three to five foot deep pits to evaluate the qualities of the soil and determine its potential for agricultural production. Range judging contestants will visit several rangeland sites to identify plant species and determine the site’s value for cattle production and quail habitat. The home site evaluation event challenges contestants to determine the value of a site for residential development.
During the first two days of the event, teams will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Oklahoma’s soils and rangeland at two practice sites. The official contest on the third day takes place at a secret location that is revealed the morning of the contest. This ensures all teams are experiencing the official site for the first time.
Contest winners will be announced the evening of May 5 during a banquet at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Contest sponsors are Oklahoma AgCredit, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, American Farmers & Ranchers, National Conservation Foundation, The Sirloin Club of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Auxiliary, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Wyndham Garden OKC Airport, Catering by Finley, Lee Roy and Sylvia Hudson, Parker Land and Cattle Company, Oklahoma Association of Conservation District Employees, Soil and Water Conservation Society Oklahoma Chapter and Society for Range Management Oklahoma Section.
Supporting governments and agencies are NRCS, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Career & Technology Education, and Oklahoma State University.
Governor Proclaims March 23 as Conservation Day
Oklahoma City – Governor Mary Fallin has issued a proclamation designating March 23, 2016 as Conservation Day in Oklahoma.
“It is my sincere hope that this proclamation will prompt Oklahomans to find out more about their local conservation district office and its services to the community,” said Trey Lam, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. According to Lam, Conservation Districts will be exhibiting at the state capitol on this day to feature the diverse conservation activities across the state addressing local natural resource needs.
Oklahoma’s Conservation Districts are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs at the local level. Conservation Districts provide voluntary, incentive driven approaches to landowners for better soil and cleaner water in the State of Oklahoma. Private landowners with financial and technical assistance from local conservation districts are implementing a wide variety of conservation practices that prevent soil erosion, improve soil health and water quality. “Oklahoma’s conservation districts played a vital role in transforming the state’s land resources from the Dust Bowl to a productive state of diversified agriculture” Lam said. “And the tremendous response to Oklahoma’s state-funded Conservation Cost-Share Program demonstrates how vital district services are today.”
Conservation District staff and directors build partnerships with public and private, local, state and federal entities in an effort to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns. We work with landowners every step of the way from planning to implementation. Districts supply timely information and practical advice about natural resource management practices, coordinate cost-share programs designed to prevent soil erosion, maintain structures to prevent flooding, play an active role in community affairs and promote conservation at local events.
“We invite all Oklahomans to take the time to visit their local conservation district office this year to get acquainted with the services and information available there,” Lam said.
NACD Honors Conservation Leaders at 2016 Annual Meeting
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) honored conservation leaders at an awards banquet on Feb. 2 during the 2016 NACD Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada.
The NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award was presented BY NRCS Chief Jason Weller and NACD President Lee McDaniel to Larry “Skip” Ahlgren and Diane Ahlgren of Winnett, Montana. The Ahlgren’s were recognized for their superior service to the conservation community and commitment to promoting and leading conservation on private lands. Diane serves on the Rangeland Resources Executive Committee for the Montana Department of Natural Resources. Larry serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Grass Range Grazing District, as one of the Directors of the Williams Coulee Grazing District, and on the Board of Directors for the Montana Association of State Grazing Districts. The Ahlgrens ranch and produce cattle on their land in Eastern Montana.
The NACD President's Award was presented to Joe Lomax, NACD Board Member from New Jersey. Lomax currently serves on NACD’s Natural Resource Policy Committee, is Chairman of the Coastal Resource Policy Group and is a member of the Human Resources committee.
The NACD Friend of Conservation Award was presented to Chris Wible representing Scotts Miracle-Gro. Scotts Miracle-Gro has been a long-time supporter of NACD and continues to be an active and consistent supporter of NACD and our member districts. They teamed up with the Ohio Federation and Ohio state conservation agency to create high-quality outreach materials for districts on “Lawns and the Environment,” and then made them available to all districts at no cost through NACD. Scotts Miracle-Gro has also provided financial sponsorship of numerous NACD events such as the NACD Annual Meeting, the Spring Fly-In, and the NACD Summer Meeting. In 2011, an extra special donation of product and expertise was directed towards the NACD Service Project for the Tennessee School for the Blind where students planted a garden and had a tree planting ceremony. Scotts Miracle-Gro’s most impactful donation to date is their sole sponsorship of the monthly NACD Urban and Community Conservation Webinar since its inception in September 2012. Through these webinars, NACD has reached over 1,100 district and partner representatives, many repeatedly, showcasing what is and can be done to address natural resource concerns in developed and developing areas.
The NACD Distinguished Service Award was presented to Debbie Moreland, Program Administrator for the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) in Little Rock, Arkansas. Debbie has been an integral part of conservation districts over the past two decades, but her greatest service to Arkansas conservation has been in her role as Program Administrator for AACD where she has championed collaborative conservation efforts throughout the state. Debbie has been the catalyst for many successful conservation partnerships. Her effectiveness can be measured in the accomplishments of the Arkansas Conservation Partnership, including the many successful Mississippi River Basin Initiative projects and her coordination of popular educational field tours.
During the banquet, First Vice President Brent Van Dyke of New Mexico was sworn in as President-elect and Gary Moyer was sworn in as the new Southwest Region Executive Board Member. NACD also recognized outgoing Southwest Executive Board Member Shaun Sims, for his years of dedication and service and had a special recognition for Charles Holmes, NACD Board Member from Alabama for his nearly 30 years of service.
Earlier in the day, NRCS Chief Jason Weller and NACD President Lee McDaniel announced the winners of the 2015 Earth Team Awards: the Buffalo Conservation District from Marshall, Arkansas and the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology High School (AACT HS) of Reno, Nevada. Individually recognized were Samantha Antipa and Monique Renteria from AACT HS. The Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of NRCS, serving as an integral part of the conservation partnership.
Photos from the entire meeting are posted on the NACD Flickr site, at: www.flickr.com/photos/nacd.
The 2016 NACD Annual Meeting is sponsored by the following partners: Agri Drain Corporation; Bayer CropScience; Bob Warner; Case IH; John Deere; Monsanto; National Farmers Union; Scotts Miracle-Gro; Soil Health Institute; Syngenta; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Sugar; and Verdesian.
OCC Executive Director Trey Lam, who is over six feet tall, stands in a channel cut by flood waters in the Caddo Creek Dam 27 auxiliary spillway.
Gov. Mary Fallin Authorizes Transfer of Emergency Funds for Flood Control Repairs
January 12, 2016—Governor Mary Fallin approved the transfer of $1.8 million from the state emergency fund so Oklahoma could qualify for federal funds needed to repair flood control structures damaged last year.
“These structures are absolutely vital to protect Oklahomans and their property should the state receive record rainfall again like it did last year,” said Fallin.
Fallin praised U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, for his help in securing additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“The devastating floods throughout Oklahoma last year emphasized the importance of maintaining and repairing dams and watersheds throughout our state,” said Lucas. “Every dollar devoted to these critical rehabilitation projects will have an extraordinary impact in protecting the lives and property of Oklahomans.”
The agency’s emergency watershed protection program will help repair more than 60 structures in 16 counties damaged by last spring’s floods.
Oklahoma has more than 2,100 small watershed upstream flood control dams, a number that is tops in the nation, to slow flood waters in streams and creeks. Those impoundments prevented more than $91 million in flood damages last May, when the state was beset by torrential rains, according to USDA figures.
Flood control dams are designed to capture and slowly release water within part or all of a watershed. Oklahoma’s $2 billion flood control infrastructure costs $2 million annually to maintain. The state's Operation and maintenance of these dams is primarily the responsibility of local conservation districts, with the support of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Learn more about Oklahoma's Watershed Upstream Flood Control Programs here.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Association of Conservation Districts President Lee McDaniel offered support for the fiscal year 2016 (FY16) omnibus appropriations bill released last week that contains many important funding priorities for locally-led delivery of conservation assistance.
"After weeks of intense debate, I am pleased that lawmakers have finally reached an agreement on a spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year," McDaniel said. "The investments Congress is making in conservation will enable conservation districts and our partners to provide cleaner water, improved soil health and wildlife benefits through locally-led delivery of conservation assistance to landowners."
"We are pleased to see that lawmakers are listening to conservation districts on key programs and initiatives tied to appropriations funding and the federal budget, but there is a lot of work yet to do in conveying the importance of all of these programs," McDaniel said. "Lawmakers need to understand the critical importance of programs like EQIP, and NACD will continue to work closely with legislators to advocate for the highest level of funding for priority programs."
While the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a critical mandatory farm bill conservation program, was cut there were several provisions in the bill worth highlighting:
OACD to Help Sponsor Southern Soil Health Conference Jan 12-13 in Ardmore, Okla.
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts is pleased to help sponsor the Second Annual Southern Soil Health Conference Jan. 12-13 at the Ardmore Convention Center.
Hosted by Green Cover Seed, Southern Soil Health Conference is an educational opportunity for agricultural producers and landowners to learn more about soil health and the importance of cover crops.
Groups partnering to bring this event to Oklahoma include the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Farm Foundation, No-Till on the Plains, Southern SARE, Texas Grazing Land Coalition, Dixon Water Foundation, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Sand County Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Out on the Land.
Focusing solely on soil health, cover crops and Graz2, the conference will feature keynote speakers including animal scientist Dr. Allan Williams who is the founding partner and president of LMC, an agriculture and food industry consulting firm that specializes in enhanced farm and food company sustainability and profitability, as well as no-till producers Steve Tucker of Nebraska, John Heerman of Colorado and Darin Williams of Kansas.
In addition, Texas and Oklahoma producers including Jimmy Emmons, Craig Watson, Yates Adcock and Max Martin will share their individual experiences with soil health and how it has affected their farming operations.
Noble Foundation Tour
On Monday, Jan. 11 from 3-6:30 p.m. the Noble Foundation will host a tour of the beautiful Noble Foundation campus including the plant pathology lab and the greenhouse and also provide an overview of the Noble Foundation history and the agricultural consultation program.
Cost of registration through Nov. 30 is $125 per person, increasing to $150 from Dec. 1-31 and $175 after Dec. 31. Learn more and register online here.
“This Land is Your Land” Workshop Explores Connection between Good Citizenship and Conservation
On October 21, 2015, the Oklahoma Blue Thumb Association together with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts will host “This Land is Your Land – Discovering a Sense of Place” at Fort Reno in El Reno, Okla. from 8:30 a.m.-4:15 a.m.
The experimental workshop will delve into the spirit and meaning of citizenship and will highlight the value of digging a little deeper into places that are important to you.
The workshop will feature presentations from conservationists, teachers and historians who have a passion to guide participants to a better understanding of their community and encourage them to explore issues such as:
• How can I encourage good citizenship within my community?
• What can I do to conserve local resources?
• What does my community need from me?
• Is there a trick to blending sustainability and citizenship?
Participants will also learn about Fort Reno’s cultural history and its surrounding natural resources including the North Canadian River, prairie ecosystem, wildlife and local citizens.
The cost of the workshop is $25, which includes lunch and materials. Registration deadline is Oct. 9. To register, visit thislandisyourland.eventbrite.com or download a registration form here. For questions or more information, please contact Cheryl Cheadle at 918-398-1804 or email@example.com.
Conservation Districts Featured on "Out on the Land" on RFD-TV
RFD-TV will be featuring conservation districts, soil health and NRCS in two upcoming episodes of Out on the Land. The first episode will air Tuesday, September 8 at 6 p.m. CST and will be rerun December 8 also at 6 p.m. CST.
This episode will take a look at Jimmy Emmons' farm in western Oklahoma. In the episode, Emmons, a board member for the Dewey County Conservation District and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, discusses how he changed his farming methods to incorporate more soil health practices and principles and how it has ultimately improved his bottom line. The episode also features a visit to Emmons' farm by NRCS District Conservationist Paul Clark, who discusses cover cropping with Emmons and his neighbors. The episode is capped off with a vignette about the history of conservation districts and information about how they can assist present landowners and managers.
The second episode serves as a part two and picks up where the first one left off on Emmons' farm. This episode features a discussion between Out on the Land host Dr. Jerry Butler and Emmons about the incorporation of livestock grazing on Emmons' cropland and how it has benefitted the health of his soil and his crop yields. Also featured is Steve Alspach, NRCS State Soil Scientist in Oklahoma, who discusses soil health benefits and the formation of partnerships across Oklahoma between conservation districts, NRCS, local landowners and others to increase awareness and adoption of soil health practices. The episode concludes with a brief look at the National Association of Conservation Districts and our mission and work. This episode will air Tuesday, September 15 at 6 p.m. CST and will rerun on December 15 at the same time.
No-till on the Plains to Celebrate 20th Anniversary at Winter Conference January 26-27
The world’s leading experts in continuous no-till will honor the history of soil health and share their roadmaps for the future at the 20th annual No-till on the Plains Winter Conference Jan. 26-27, 2016, in Salina, Kan. The Agriculture’s Innovative Minds (AIM) Symposium will follow the conference on Jan. 28.
This special anniversary celebration features a new format, starting with pre-conference events Tuesday morning. Beginning no-till producers can exchange ideas and ask questions during a special session with experienced no-tillers. A rainfall simulator will demonstrate water infiltration and raindrop impact on soil samples from no-till and conventional tillage fields. Industry Morning Marketplace will include refreshments and presentations on the latest no-till innovations and technology from exhibitors.
Keynote speakers will take the stage Tuesday afternoon, followed by the popular Beer and Bull networking event where attendees can exchange ideas with speakers, exhibitors and producers.
On Wednesday, attendees can choose from 22 breakout sessions from forward-thinking no-till producers and leading no-till researchers. The conference concludes with keynote speaker Dwayne Beck, research manager at Dakota Lakes Research Farm.
“For less than the cost of a bag of seed, you can get up to three days of intensive training, discussion and networking,” said Steve Swaffar, executive director for No-till on the Plains. “This year’s speaker lineup is the best you’ll find in one place. It’s well worth the investment considering the volume of expert insight you’ll receive and the impact on your bottom line once you apply these concepts.”
The Agriculture’s Innovative Minds (AIM) Symposium will follow the conference on Jan. 28 with the theme, “Plants, Bugs, and Microbes: Do You Hear What I Hear?” This advanced workshop will examine how plants, insects and the soil communicate by releasing chemicals to send messages. This communication can benefit plants in need of resources or protection. Speakers include Jill Clapperton, principal scientist and co-founder of Rhizoterra Inc.; Jonathan Lundgren, research entomologist for USDA ARS; and Jack Schultz, director of the University of Missouri’s Bond Life Sciences Center. The trio will offer an in-depth look at what communication means for soils, crop production and bottom lines.
The list of topics and speakers is being updated regularly at notill.org.
Early bird pricing ends Sept. 30 and offers up to $150 in savings with the winter conference priced at $275, AIM is $250 and the combination is $450. Prices are per person. To register, visit notill.org. No-till farming systems offer several advantages to producers willing to implement the system.
Fewer trips across fields without tillage passes will reduce fuel costs. Increasing crops in rotations breaks weed and insect pest cycles. Increased crop residue and root systems will increase soil organic matter and microbiological activity, thereby increasing the productiveness and fertility of the soil. Implemented in a site-specific systems approach, no-till will, over time, outperform conventional tillage.
No-till on the Plains offers field events, networking opportunities and the annual Winter Conference to provide crop producers with valuable no-till information. For more information, visit notill.org.
Oklahoma Conservation Districts to Begin Damage Assessment of Flood Control Infrastructure
June 2, 2015—All of Oklahoma’s flood control infrastructure suffered wear and tear during a month of historic rainfall. As floodwaters recede, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission reports that crews are inspecting the 2,107 dams operated by conservation districts for damage.
“It’s impossible to say the extent of damage caused to the dams until the water goes down—that is taking some time,” said Tammy Sawatzky, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Conservation Programs Division director. “Preliminary inspections indicate the cost of repairs may run in the millions of dollars.”
Heavy rain caused the grass covered auxiliary spillways of 133 dams to flow with water. This design feature prevents water from overtopping the earthen dams and threatening structural integrity. Of these 133 dams, 21 incurred damage; of which 4 suffered significant damage.
Damages observed include cuts into the base of dams from backward flowing water, dislodged spillway pipes and heavy erosion in auxiliary spillways.
“Minor repairs can cost between $1,000 and $5,000, while more serious repairs can cost up to $75,000,” said Sawatzky. “Multiply that by 2,107 dams, and the repair cost is potentially quite high.”
Some funding for repairs is expected to come from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The program allows conservation districts and similar entities to secure emergency repair funding on a cost-share basis. NRCS covers up to 75 percent of the repair costs and the remaining 25 percent must come from a local source. Local contributions may come in the form of in-kind contributions such as labor and equipment.
Oklahoma’s $2 billion flood control infrastructure costs $2 million annually to maintain. This maintenance cost comes in addition to emergency repairs such as those needed now. In exchange, the dams provide an average $88 million in flood damage prevention annually. For the period of April 18-May 31, the dams prevented an estimated $101.2 million in flood damage to property, businesses and other infrastructure according to NRCS Water Resource Office.
2015 NACD South Central Regional Meeting to be held in Tulsa, Okla.
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts will host the 2015 National Association of Conservation Districts South Central Regional Meeting, August 9-11 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Okla. The three-day meeting, "Rock'n for Conservation," will include educational tours, informational speakers and a jammin’ social scene.
Rates: $83.00 per night plus 8.35% sales tax and 5% occupancy tax.
Online at www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com. Be sure to enter your Group Code "OACDAug2015."
By phone at 1-800-760-6700 and reference “NACD South Central Region Meeting 2015."
Deadline to reserve rooms: Sunday, July 19, 2015.
To register for the meeting, download a registration packet here.
Please complete a separate form for each registrant. Payment is required prior to processing registration and attendance. A credit card processing fee of 4% applies to all credit card purchases.
Pre-registration is defined as registrations received on or before midnight CST on July 19, 2015.
Registration is defined as registrations received after midnight on CST on July 19, 2015.
Questions? Contact Sarah Blaney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Millions in damages prevented by dams, conservation practices during historic May rainfall
May 12, 2015—Oklahoma’s network of 2,107 flood control dams and voluntary conservation practices prevented an estimated $22.57 million in flood damages from the May 1-9 storms according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Water Resource Office.
“The flood control network was designed to protect farmland, roads, bridges, homes and lives, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen over the last week of rainfall,” said Trey Lam, Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) executive director. “Like any form of infrastructure, operation and maintenance of these dams is critical if we hope to continue reaping the benefits they provide.”
According to Oklahoma Mesonet, May 2015 is so far the wettest since 1921. Some of the hardest working dam clusters over the last 10 days include:
-Fourche Maline Creek watershed, Latimer County, 14 dams, 9.97 inches of rain, $819,272 in damage prevented.
-Upper Clear Boggy Creek watershed, Coal, Johnston, and Pontotoc Counties, 49 dams, 10.1 inches of rain, $1,029,641 in damage prevented.
- Sandy Creek watershed, Garvin and Pontotoc Counties, 29 dams, 8.11 inches of rain, $764,362 in damage prevented.
-Okfuskee Tributaries, Okfuskee and Okmulgee Counties, 29 dams, 7.89 inches of rain, $693,985 in damage prevented.
Rainfall averages from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Local conservation districts and the private landowners they work with also deserve credit for this success,” said Gary O’Neill, NRCS state conservationist. “It’s important we not lose sight of the other side of the coin—soil health. Healthy soils achieved through voluntary conservation practices are crucial to halting the extensive flood and wind related erosion witnessed in this state during the 1930s and ‘50s.”
Practices such as no-till farming and stream bank fencing mean stabilizing ground cover is in place when floodwaters rise. Due to higher levels of organic matter above and within the soil, healthy soil withstands flooding, erosion and drought better than bare or plowed soil.
“High residue, no-till and cover crops build soil that is more resilient to climate extremes—both flood and drought.” said Greg Scott, OCC soil scientist. “Organic matter, earthworms and roots hold soil in place and provide pathways through the soil for water to infiltrate. Bare soil seals off, crusts over and can be almost as ineffective as concrete at absorbing water, especially in flood events.”
Banks flooding on Washita River, flood control dams fully functional
April 20, 2015 - Upper Washita Conservation District in Roger Mills County reports flooding along the Washita River. The district reports flood control structures are functioning as designed—trapping large volumes of water and slowing it as it makes its way downstream.
Over six inches of rain from April 12-17 has challenged the region’s drought damaged soil. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), one inch of rain is equal to about 27,154 gallons of water per acre. Extremely dry soil is highly erodible and absorbs water much slower than healthy soil.
Roger Mills County is home to 143 flood control structures. In total, Oklahoma’s conservation districts operate and maintain 2,107 flood control structures across the state. Prior to their construction beginning in the 1950s, many parts of Oklahoma flooded regularly.
Oklahoma’s flood control structures provide $82 million in annual benefits which include flood water impoundment, water supply, recreation, wildlife habitat and firefighting.
Dust Bowl Survivors to Tell Their Story on Black Sunday 80th Anniversary
Ernest Herald recalls a rabbit hunt cut short by stinging gales of dust, forcing him to lay face down in a field until the storm passed. Betty Ann Lam's family was driving to church when they saw the black dust cloud chasing them down the highway. Pauline Hodges remembers her father’s words: “the worst part about the Dust Bowl, is that I helped cause it.” He was a farmer from the Panhandle.
On the 80th Anniversary of Black Sunday, join us in recording the memories and lessons of those who survived this vital period in our nation’s history.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 9 – 10 a.m.
WHAT: Panel discussion with Dust Bowl survivors to commemorate their harrowing ordeal and recognize what citizens and conservation districts are doing today to ensure Oklahoma never again succumbs to the dust.
WHERE: Oklahoma State Capitol, Second Floor, Blue Room
WHO: 30-50 Dust Bowl survivors
Governor Mary Fallin (invited)
Members of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives
Trey Lam, Executive Director, Oklahoma Conservation Commission
Gary O’Neill, State Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Jordan Shearer, Project Director, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts
Note: Many of our Dust Bowl survivors are happy to speak with the media. To arrange on or off-site interviews, contact Robert Hathorne at 405-437-9171 or email@example.com.
Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, was a massive dust storm that blackened the sky over many states. It began in the Oklahoma Panhandle and, days later, was settling dust upon window sills in Washington, D.C. and ships 300 miles off the East Coast.
Awards Presented During Conservation Day at the Capitol
March 24, 2015 - The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) sponsored “Conservation Day at the Capitol” on Monday March 23, 2015. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) co-sponsored the event. Several of the state’s local conservation districts displayed exhibits at the event along with partner agencies and organizations.
The exhibits were displayed in the Capitol Rotunda on the 4th floor from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The displays featured diverse conservation activities across the state and addressed local natural resource needs.
Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director Trey Lam, Billy Cook with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, 2014 Outstanding District Director Walt Freese and OACD President Steve House.
Representative Leslie Osborne and Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Reese were also present.
OACD Board President, Steve House, and Vice-President, Dan Herald,
emceed the awards ceremony. Dr. Dan Sebert, Vice-President of the OACD
Board presented Western Farmer’s Electrical Cooperative with the “Friend
of Conservation” award for their work on the Oklahoma Carbon Program.
Kent Fletcher, Environmental Specialist at Western Farmer’s accepted the
Lisa Knauf-Owen, OCC Assistant Director, and Mark Thomas, Executive Vice-President of the Oklahoma Press Associated presented the Excellence in Communications awards. Deer Creek Conservation District received first place and Kay County Conservation District received second place in the Excellence in Communications category. The Excellence in Innovative Communication was awarded to the Woodward County Conservation District and second place was award to the Caney Valley Conservation District. Carla McBride of the Anadarko Daily News was recognized for the Outstanding Support of Conservation by an OPA Member Newspaper. McBride was nominated by the South Caddo Conservation District. Scott Cloud of the Newkirk Herald Journal was recognized as the Outstanding Continuing Publisher Support of Conservation Coverage. Cloud was nominated by the Kay County Conservation District.
John Weir with the Oklahoma Prescribed Burn Association presented the Carrying the Torch award to Harry Fritzler, retired NRCS Range Management Specialist. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma were both awarded the Friend of Fire for their efforts to promote, raise awareness of, and use prescribed fire.
Oklahoma Tops EPA Charts for Pollution Reduction to Waterways
March 23, 2015— Oklahoma ranks second among the states for protecting waterways from harmful nutrients according to new EPA data. This is the sixth year in a row Oklahoma has ranked in the top five states for nonpoint source (NPS) pollution reductions.
Oklahoma ranks second for phosphorus reduction (358,469 pounds) and third for nitrogen reduction (856,906 pounds) to streams. These nutrients are major contributors to algal bloom issues in the state’s reservoirs which can challenge water treatment facilities, lead to fish kills and, in rare cases, pose a risk to human health.
Oklahoma receives less than two percent of EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 funds, yet meets between 20-30 percent of EPA’s national NPS reduction goals annually. The state’s NPS reduction numbers are based solely on the voluntary implementation of conservation practices by farmers and ranchers across the state—no regulation is involved. “This success is proof that voluntary, incentive based conservation is the best method of protecting our soil and water resources,” said Trey Lam, Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) executive director.
Conservation practices that promote soil health such as no-till farming, and allowing natural vegetation to grow along stream banks can drastically reduce the amount of runoff that flows into streams. Oklahoma’s model allows local conservation districts to determine conservation priorities, then addresses those priorities with resources rather than regulations. This local approach has been successful since reversing the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
OCC will build on Oklahoma’s success with a number of new initiatives in 2016, including two Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects in partnership with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Focusing on the Elk City Lake and Grand Lake watersheds, these projects will fund conservation practices along streams to improve water quality in the reservoirs downstream. Learn more about these projects here.
“We’re very fortunate to have a legislature that funds NPS water quality monitoring,” said Shanon Phillips, OCC Water Quality Division director. “Not only are we able to provide the public with resources to implement conservation practices with Section 319 funds, we can scientifically verify results through state funded professional monitoring—Oklahoma is unique in this regard.”
Monitoring results are viewable on Oklahoma’s Interactive Stream Health Map. Currently in beta, the map offers nearly a decade of water quality data from over 200 monitoring sites: bit.ly/StreamHealth. More sites and years of data will be added in the coming months.