Conservation to be stressed in Chickasaw Country

  • water quality

OKLAHOMA CITY – A partnership announced recently will work toward “continuous development and improvement to local communities and watersheds contained within the Chickasaw Nation’s territory.”

The Chickasaw Nation encompasses all or part of 13 counties in south-central Oklahoma, including Stephens, Jefferson and Grady counties. Chickasaw Country consists of more than 7,600 square miles.

The tribe, Oka’ The Water Institute, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to work together to provide quality resources, education and research.

Tribal landowners and land users play an important role in the management of agricultural land, officials said.

The Chickasaw Nation “acknowledges our intent and commitment to work cooperatively and effectively” to achieve and sustain watershed health within the boundaries of the nation, said Kristopher Patton, the tribe’s natural resources director.

The five-year “cornerstone agreement” “symbolizes a commitment to watershed sustainability focused on engagement and action by local stakeholders to successfully accomplish land stewardship best-management practices,” Patton said. “This effort is a key process toward overall environmental health and economic prosperity within our local communities.”

“Through our work together, we will be able to help landowners implement best-management practices that will improve the quality of their land and ultimately will improve their economic prosperity,” said Susan Paddack, a former state legislator who is executive director of Oka’ The

Water Institute at East Central University. “The resulting benefit to the watershed will be healthier soil and improved water quality and quantity.”

“Enhancing the conservation partnership to include tribes like the Chickasaw Nation allows for expansion of private lands conservation, which will lead to more soil health systems being installed and water quality improvements across south-central Oklahoma,” said Gary O’Neill, NRCS Oklahoma state conservationist.