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Partnership breaks ground on first stimulus-funded upstream flood control dam


With the turn of a shovel and the clicking of camera shutters, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the Turkey Creek Conservancy District and the Garfield County Conservation District in early September broke ground on the first upstream flood control dam in the United States to be built with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus plan. The dam will be the first of several new conservation projects throughout Oklahoma and the nation made possible by the passage of the stimulus act, said Trey Lam, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.

"This new dam signifies the first step in what promises to be a huge investment in the conservation infrastructure of Oklahoma and the nation," Lam said. "The dollars made available by the stimulus plan will help us not only build new upstream flood control structures like the one we broke ground on today, but they will also provide much needed assistance in repairing aging flood dams throughout Oklahoma and the nation and will provide funds for other conservation initiatives, as well. This ground breaking is a great way to kick off this new wave of investment in natural resource protection."

Located west of the city of Enid, the new flood control dam, designated Turkey Creek # 3, will reduce flooding on over 500 acres of cropland, protect six county bridges and roads located below the structure and provide wildlife mitigation all for the construction cost of $510,998. Awarded to the construction company of C. Watts and Son Inc., the construction project will be funded completely by federal dollars from the stimulus plan. The dam will be the second of 11 dams to be built in the 244,000 acre Turkey Creek watershed. When all dams are completed, the project will reduce flooding for the 6,000 residents in the eight small communities in the watershed.

"Without the stimulus funds we would have a hard time getting this project on the ground," Lam said. "We hope this kick-start of funding will start a process that will continue until we get the entire watershed system finished."

The NRCS in Oklahoma has received nearly $2 million in funds from the stimulus plan to build new flood control dams. In addition, another $14 million in stimulus funds have been earmarked to the Oklahoma NRCS for flood control rehabilitation and repair; $2 million in stimulus funds have been received by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission for Water Quality work; and another $100,000 has come to conservation districts in northwest Oklahoma for work on controlled burns. And $308,000 in stimulus funds have also been earmarked for carbon and methane credit work by OACD, statewide. All of this adds up to a significant investment for conservation in Oklahoma according to Matt Gard, chairman of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

"We are excited about this investment in Oklahoma conservation by the federal government," Gard said. "It will provide new jobs for construction projects, new investment in the economy of rural Oklahoma and additional protection for our natural resources. This groundbreaking ceremony today signals the kickoff of what promises to be a new area in conservation work in Oklahoma and we are excited to be a part of it."

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