Oklahoma’s Conservation Summit

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As Oklahomans, we are fortunate to have such a diverse array of natural resources, and we have a long history of stewardship protecting those assets.

Perhaps nothing captured the sense of loss and despair during the Great Depression more than images of Oklahoma dust storms tearing across the continent, fueled by soil that was loosed from poor land management practices.

Wind blowing dust and dirt across a field in north central Oklahoma near Lahoma.

Nothing captures how far we have come in our conservation practices than the absence of those dust storms a few years ago after we experienced drought even more severe than the 1930s. Our soil and water are foundational resources. We must always focus on those first as we seek to build a sustainable economy based on our state’s working lands and waters.

The conservation efforts that helped secure our soil in the early 21st century will need to adapt to changes in climate and in our society. That reality inspired a meeting of Oklahoma conservation organizations.

This group of like-minded organizations gathered Aug. 18 in Moore for the Oklahoma Conservation Summit. DASNR was one of the organizing partners of the summit. Other partnering groups included the Noble Research Institute; Oklahoma Conservation Commission; Natural Resource Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; and the Oklahoma Tribal Advisory Council.

The purpose of the event was to facilitate increased collaboration, effective communication and public recognition for the conservation efforts in Oklahoma. Congressman Frank Lucas, CASNR alumnus and chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Natural Forestry, served as the keynote speaker. During afternoon breakout sessions, we also discussed key conservation issues in Oklahoma and explored ways to enhance the efforts of each organization through collaboration and better communication.

The summit drew 145 participants. I was pleased with the robust attendance as well as the variety of organizations that chose to take part in this important dialogue.

Rather than create another duplicative organization, we sought ways of bringing this collaborative spirit to events and projects already underway, so we can multiply the impact of each group’s efforts and transform Oklahoma conservation efforts for the challenges ahead.

Nothing will happen without some careful thought, planning and hard work. However, our initial steps have positioned us well for continued improvements in Oklahoma conservation.

 

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