NWTF, ODWC Celebrate Waterways for Wildlife at Commissioner’s Meeting

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EDGEFIELD, S.C. — NWTF District Biologist Annie Farrell presented the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation with a $27,500 check as part of the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife Initiative. Funds will be used for two new riparian (or water-related) conservation projects scheduled to begin in fall 2024. Farrell, who has been instrumental in the success of the initiative, presented the award during a ceremony at the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission’s monthly meeting in Oklahoma City.

“We are beyond excited to continue our partnership with ODWC for the betterment of our critical water-related ecosystems in Oklahoma,” Farrell said. “In the last three years, the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife Initiative has contributed over $100K to six vital restoration projects in Oklahoma, equating to $418,000 with partner match. These efforts are made possible thanks to all of the dedicated NWTF volunteers and Waterways for Wildlife’s tremendous partners, such as ODWC. We look forward to putting shovel to dirt later this year and continuing to improve Oklahoma’s treasured natural resources.”

The two new Waterways for Wildlife projects in Oklahoma were carefully selected based on their potential for impact and the needs of the local ecosystems. The first project will take place on the Beaver River WMA in Beaver County, and the second project will be on the Lexington WMA in Cleveland County.

The Beaver River WMA project will improve 10 acres of riparian habitat along with improving 10 stream miles of the river through invasive species removal and planting cottonwood trees. The project will also serve as a valuable educational resource for local landowners. Following restoration efforts, the site will be used as a demonstration area where ODWC will host landowner field days to encourage other land managers to focus on cottonwood regeneration on their own properties, contributing to the health of the riparian ecosystem on private lands.

Likewise, the project on the Lexington WMA will bolster turkey roost tree availability and riparian health by removing invasive species from 156 acres of riparian areas through mulching practices. ODWC will maintain the project site with prescribed fire in the future. 

The two new Waterways for Wildlife projects mark another significant step forward for the initiative, which has already made a substantial impact in Sooner State over the past two years. With over 2,500 acres of land positively impacted and over 10 stream miles enhanced (not including the two new projects), the tangible results provide great prospects for the future of wildlife conservation. 

“The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife values our partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, and we are very appreciative of the funding contributions we have received through the Waterways for Wildlife Initiative, including the $27,500 in funding that we received today,” said Russ ODWC Assistant Chief.  “Leveraging that funding 3:1 with Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funding, we are able to deliver $110,000 of on-the-ground riparian habitat management / restoration for the benefit of wildlife here in Oklahoma. The cumulative benefits enabled through Waterways for Wildlife Initiative funding across the country are truly making landscape level changes.”

The Waterways for Wildlife initiative was jumpstarted in 2022, in part, by a generous contribution from Ovintiv. Projects under the initiative, including the ones in Oklahoma, are not just about immediate restoration but also about building resilience and ensuring the long-term health of riparian ecosystems within the 10-state region. Projects slated for 2024 will enhance over 60 stream miles, nearly 5,750 acres of riparian habitat and more than 16,400 adjacent upland acres, contributing significantly to the initiative’s long-term conservation goals.

Learn more about the NWTF’s Waterways for Wildlife.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations.

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