Stimulus funding continues flowing to Oklahoma conservation
Nearly $20 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the Federal Stimulus Plan has now been earmarked for conservation projects in Oklahoma, projects such as flood control dam repair, water quality protection and wildlife habitat improvement according to Trey Lam, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.
"We are extremely excited that these funds have come to Oklahoma," Lam Said. "Clearly the need is there and these dollars will definitely help address critical issues in our state."
According to Lam, the dollars to be received by conservation in Oklahoma are for a laundry list of natural resource issues ranging from flood control dam repair to developing new market based approaches to incentivize conservation work. Projects approved for stimulus funding include;
--Over $14 million for rehabilitation of upstream flood control dams;
--Nearly $2 million for watershed operations and new dam construction;
--$2 million for non-point source pollution protection through the Water Resources Board safe drinking water revolving fund;
--$1 million for poultry litter processing;
--$308,000 for developing a carbon credit market in Oklahoma from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Federal Department of Energy;
--$100,000 for control burns to help reduce invasive species such as cedar trees from the Federal Fish and Wildlife service.
"These dollars represent a huge investment in conservation across Oklahoma," Lam said. "These funds will help local conservation districts, our Federal partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service and our state partners at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission assist farmers, ranchers and other landowners to protect our soil, water, air and wildlife habitats."
According to Clay Pope, executive director of OACD, these funds will not only help protect the environment, but also help stimulate economic activity in Rural Oklahoma.
"These new dollars for conservation will not only give our natural resource work a shot in the arm, but it will also mean more dollars spent in Rural Oklahoma," Pope said. "According to Oklahoma State University, when a dollar is spent on conservation, it results in additional economic activity. In 2008, Oklahoma spent roughly $17 million on conservation practices through project-based grants from state and federal programs. This spending generated an additional $13.5 million of local economic activity. This number doesn't include the additional economic activity that comes from practices like carbon credits, hunting leases and agritourism. When you also factor in the savings our metropolitan neighbors downstream realize in reduced water treatment costs because of the protection landowners will be able to provide in the watersheds above them and when you look at the $70 million our flood dams save Oklahoma every year in decreased flooding, the economic benefits of these conservation stimulus dollars begin to speak for themselves. This investment of just under $20 million will definitely help the rural economy. We are extremely grateful to the Obama Administration and to the Congress for ensuring that these funds are available for conservation work, not only in Oklahoma, but across the entire nation and we are excited about the opportunity to use these resources to help our states landowners protect our natural resources while helping improve the economy."