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WFEC, OACD expand state's first carbon sequestration pilot program


In an effort to expand economic opportunities for more Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, Western Farmers Electric and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts recently announced the expansion of Oklahoma's first large scale carbon credit purchase initiative to all eligible producers in the portions of the North Canadian River Watershed in Blaine, Dewey, and Canadian counties.

"We are excited to offer even more farmers and ranchers the opportunity to make money when they practice good stewardship on their land," Said Sarah Pope, director of the OACD Oklahoma Carbon Initiative. "By opening the enrollment area for carbon credits to all eligible producers in the North Canadian Watershed between Canton Lake and Lake Overholser, we can get more dollars to producers pockets and encourage even more good work to protect Oklahoma City's drinking water. It's a win-win for everyone."

Under the original terms of the North Canadian River Carbon Pilot Program, the only carbon offsets eligible for purchase were those resulting from changes in farming and ranching practices instituted by local landowners as part of a Section 319 Clean Water Initiative being implemented by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Water Quality Division in cooperation with local Conservation Districts in Blaine, Dewey, and Canadian counties. With the expansion of the purchase area, now producers in the North Canadian River Watershed who are not directly enrolled in the 319 initiative, but who are undertaking practices such as no-till farming, riparian restoration, or who have take land out of crop production and put into grass for additional grazing, wildlife habitat or to control erosion will be eligible for enrollment in the carbon credit program. Payment for carbon credits under the program can range as high as $3.50 per acre.

"Payments to producers will depend on the practice they are undertaking and the number of acres they have in that practice," Pope said. "The bottom line is that if a producer in the North Canadian River Watershed is already doing good stewardship on their land or if they are going to make a change to no-till, plant more grass or fence off and restore a riparian area, this program will put extra money in their pocket for the good stewardship they are already undertaking. It is a great way to reward folks who are taking care of the land and water."

Any landowner in the North Canadian River Watershed who is interested in the carbon credit program is encouraged to contact the Dewey County Conservation District at 580-328-5366, the Blaine County Conservation District at 580-623-4740, the Central North Canadian Conservation District at 405-884-2383, the East Canadian Conservation District at 405-262-1958 or to contact Sarah Pope, the director of the OACD Oklahoma Carbon Initiative at 405-210-8950.

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