New state initiative aims to improve conservation efforts
OKLAHOMA CITY — A new statewide collaboration was officially launched today during a special signing before the annual Lt. Governor Turkey Hunt kickoff luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Conservation Task Force will focus on advancing conservation efforts across the state.
"As urban areas continue to grow, land and water resources are depleting," said Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb. "It's important we all do our part as a united team to conserve, protect and restore Oklahoma's natural resources. This is the first step in beginning a long-term collaborative relationship."
The task force is comprised of eight organizations, each dedicated to natural resource stewardship: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Oklahoma Tribal Conservation Advisory Council.
"The Noble Foundation was established on the fundamental belief that the land is our most important resource and that it is our duty to keep it healthy and productive for future generations," said Billy Cook, Ph.D., Noble Foundation senior vice president and Agricultural Division director. "Each of the contributing organizations to this task force agree that conservation of our natural resources is critical to healthy lands and ultimately impacts all Oklahomans."
This statewide effort will focus on three collaborative objectives: enhance the development of conservation in Oklahoma, coordination of research, and communication. In addition, the task force will identify and address major state conservation goals, develop models of success for specific topics, and develop informational resources and messaging to provide critical information to the general public, those involved in conservation, and the next generation.
"Each organization involved plays a role in conserving Oklahoma's vast resources, and we want to bring together all of those resources to better serve our great state," said Trey Lam, Oklahoma Conservation Commission executive director. "As state organizations go through budget cuts, it's just as important to come together to address the conservation needs and look for new ways to expand our impact through collaboration."
One outcome of the communication objective will be an annual meeting of all partners in Oklahoma to address the issues in conservation. This meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 18-19, 2017, in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Conservation Task Force was launched today during a special memorandum of understanding signing at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Pictured are (L to R): Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese; Trey Lam, executive director, Oklahoma Conservation Commission; J.D. Strong, director, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Billy Cook, Ph.D., senior vice president and Agricultural Division director, Noble Foundation; Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; Tom Coon, Ph.D., vice president of agricultural programs, Oklahoma State University; Gary O'Neill, state conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Jimmy Emmons, president, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts; and Jack Hicks, president, Oklahoma Tribal Conservation Advisory Council.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. (www.noble.org), headquartered in Ardmore, Okla., is a nonprofit organization conducting agricultural, forage improvement and plant biology research; assisting farmers and ranchers through educational and consultative agricultural programs; and providing grants to nonprofit charitable, educational and health organizations.