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Oklahoma conservation leaders praise approval of $25 million bond issue by Governor Brad Henry


Conservation leaders, April 27, praised Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry for his approval of the $25 million conservation bond. With the passage of this measure, the state will begin the process of repairing the damage to the Oklahoma conservation infrastructure caused by the devastating floods of 2007.

"Governor Henry's signature gives us the green light to start the work of repairing the damage caused by the storms of 2007," Trey Lam, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, said. "We very much appreciate the leadership shown by Governor Henry and the Oklahoma Legislature in reauthorizing this bond and helping us protect the property and lives of the citizens of our state."

In 2007, record flooding resulted in damage to flood control structures throughout the state, including two dams in Caddo County that suffered near breaches. In addition, millions of dollars of damage was done to additional conservation infrastructure state-wide. The bond issue, reauthorized April 27 with Governor Henry's signature, was originally passed last session to start the process of repairing this damage. After its initial passage, the bond, which was included in a larger measure with additional funding for non-conservation projects in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The version approved by Governor Henry was written to address the concerns the court expressed in its ruling.

"In the closing days of the 2008 legislative session, the House, Senate and the governor came together in a bi-partisan manner to do the right thing and pass a bond issue to help repair the catastrophic damage our state suffered," Lam said. "Unfortunately, the court struck that package down. Now, with Governor Henry's approval of this act, we can start the work of repairing this damage."

According to Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, the approval of the Conservation Bond comes just in time to match new federal dollars being generated by the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the Stimulus Plan.

"Oklahoma is in line to receive over $14 million for flood control dam rehabilitation from the recently passed stimulus plan," Pope said. "To get these funds, however, we needed this bond to provide the state match to these federal dollars. With the approval of this bond, we can now insure that these dollars come to our state to help us repair this damage to our flood control infrastructure. With the help of our federal partners at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, our local conservation districts will now have the resources they need to start the repair work. We are extremely happy that Governor Henry signed this bill into law."

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