Opportunities for Oklahoman conservationists
Friday, September 25, 2009 - 23:09
Getting involved doesn't have to be a huge commitment, and it's often as simple as writing an email to get in touch with the right people. Here are a few organizations that are committed to preserving and conserving wildlife and habitat in Oklahoma.
The Nature Conservancy has made considerable progress in preserving and restoring Oklahoma's once extensive tallgrass prairies. I've had the privelege to research in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and it is amazing to see free-roaming bison grazing in tallgrass prairies, hear the greater prairie chickens displaying on their leks, and to even see a pair of wild swans rafting on a pond ... all within an hour! Those interested can attend the various activities listed on the Oklahoma page or donate financially to programs such as Adopt an Acre.
The Oklahoma State University Chapter of The Wildlife Society is a very active student chapter that participates in field work and organizational meeting and conferences. They will be conducting Greater Prairie Chicken surveys in the Osage County Tallgrass Prairie Preserve for the second consecutive year. Also, OSU-TWS will be marking barbed wire fences in northwestern Oklahoma to help deter Lesser Prairie Chickens from colliding with the fences in flight. Many other research activities and upcoming conferences are listed at the OSU-TWS website.
The National Audubon Society has long been a leading bird conservation group, especially at the community level. Oklahoma has 8 chapters scattered throughout the state, and are listed here. The Oklahoma Audubon Council is also a very informative, useful site.
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, based in Ardmore, "conducts direct operations, including assisting farmers and ranchers, and conducting plant science research and agricultural programs, to enhance agricultural productivity regionally, nationally and internationally." These programs include managing for optimal whitetail deer populations, assisting farmers and ranchers with agricultural issues, quail habitat restoration, eastern red cedar control and other activities. The Noble Foundation is a great resource for the private landowner wanting to make a positive difference in regards to wildlife and habitat.
As is stated on the very top of the home page, "The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations and is supported by hunting and fishing license fees and federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment." What this means to an Oklahoman is that it is vitally important to wildlife for sportsmen and women to be hunting and fishing, as licenses and retail sales fund the overwhelming majority of wildlife management areas and refuges. Even if one doesn't want to hunt or fish, buying a state duck stamp contributes much needed money to waterfowl habitat restoration and preservation. Plus, the artwork is beautiful, and if you've accumulated as many as I have over the years, you can frame them and have quite the display.