Last week, Creede Speake of Springer, Oklahoma, received the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Distinguished Service award at the organization’s 2019 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, for his outstanding contributions to conservation efforts in southern Oklahoma.
Nominated by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) and Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Speake has been serving conservation efforts for 69 years. The Carter County rancher has been instrumental in securing easements for the state’s watershed flood control program, as well as the restoration of hundreds of acres of native prairie in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
Speake was appointed to the Caddo County Watershed Association board in 1949. During his time on the Watershed Association and the Arbuckle Conservation District Board, 39 flood control structures were built in Carter County, helping to prevent flooding on a 22-mile stretch of southern Oklahoma highway.
After returning home from the Korean Conflict where he served as a U.S. Navy pilot, Speake began implementing conservation efforts on his family’s ranch. He planted several acres in native bluestem after consulting with the newly-formed Noble Foundation. After witnessing the benefits to the soil, he harvested and planted many more acres of native grasses and encouraged his neighbors to do the same. He worked with districts across Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico to sell bluestem seed, creating funding for local conservation activities.
“Creede Speake is the type of locally-led conservationist that soil conservation pioneer Hugh Hammond Bennett envisioned,” said Trey Lam, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director. “He has always been willing to do whatever it takes to protect the soil and water in the Arbuckle Conservation District and southern Oklahoma and has spent his 93 years making southern Oklahoma a better place for future generations.”