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NRCS Chief White Stops in Drummond, OK to Dedicate Nation’s First American

NRCS Chief White Stops in Drummond, Okla. to Dedicate Nation’s First American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Watershed Project

Oklahoma Conservation Commission Chairman Matt Gard and Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Vice President Kim Farber listen to the chief praise the Oklahoma partnerships for being able to put “shovel ready” projects into action. Turkey Creek 3 is the first dam in the nation to be completed through funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Oklahoma Conservation Commission Chairman Matt Gard and Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Vice President Kim Farber listen to the chief praise the Oklahoma partnerships for being able to put “shovel ready” projects into action. Turkey Creek 3 is the first dam in the nation to be completed through funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Turkey Creek Watershed Site 3 dam. Even this smaller 36-acre reservoir will reduce sedimentation in the Turkey Creek watershed and will help prevent $32,000 in monetary damages due to flooding, annually.

As part of his Oklahoma tour, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White was welcomed heartily at the fire station in Drummond, Okla., on April 20, 2010, to help dedicate the first upstream flood-control dam in the nation to be constructed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Chief White highlighted the jobs provided during the construction of this dam. Turkey Creek Dam No. 3 was completed ahead of schedule and is the second of 11 dams planned for the Turkey Creek watershed. When all 11 structures are complete, 6,000 residents will be better protected from flooding. The 244,000-acre watershed is located within four counties and all or part of eight rural communities.

Chief White recognized the efforts of the landowners and said, “I think that’s what sets us (the NRCS) apart, it’s not ‘the federal agency’s way or the highway’, it’s ‘what can we do together with the landowners?’ The fate of our environment is going to be determined by the decisions millions of men and women make who own private land.”

The chief stated that Oklahoma’s partnerships with conservation districts and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) are a model for the nation. State Conservationist Ron Hilliard credits the partnership with organizations and private landowners with the ability to move projects like Turkey 3 off the shelf and to get them on the ground where they benefit those living in the watershed. He said, “Oklahomans were uniquely affected by the dust bowl and are uniquely dedicated to protecting the state’s natural resources.”

Nearly 20 percent of the nation's flood control structures are in Oklahoma so it was no surprise that a major share of the funds set aside through ARRA were allocated to Oklahoma. Although Oklahoma is pleased to have this structure finally in place and is moving forward on starting the next structure at the Turkey Creek Site 8 this summer, new construction is not the only concern. The issue of rehabilitating the existing 2,106 aging watershed dams is also a priority.

Chief White pointed out, “every day a dam in the United States reaches the end of its designed life and it’s going to happen every day for the next 20 years. We’ve got to have the funds to come back in and fix them up and get another 50 to 100 years of protection from them.”

Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) President Trey Lamb said, “We are excited that stimulus funds are also being directed to the repair and rehabilitation of many of our dams. It is critical that we keep our flood control infrastructure properly maintained.”

With the help of voluntary, locally-led conservation by landowners, the Oklahoma conservation partners will continue to push toward conserving the important natural resources in our state.

By Public Affairs Specialist Crystal Young
NRCS April 2010

Last Modified: 04/27/2010

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