Secretary Salazar Presents the Project for the Protection of Aquifer Resources in Oklahoma with Conservation Award

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today presented a Partners in Conservation Award to a coalition of individuals and agencies who worked collaboratively with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Chickasaw Nation to protect valuable aquifer resources and to improve water resource conditions in Oklahoma.

The award to the aquifer resources project was one of 26 national awards to individuals and organizations presented at a ceremony at Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. to honor “those who achieve natural resource goals in collaboration and partnership with others.”

The 26 Partners in Conservation Awards recognize conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of a total of 600 individuals and organizations including landowners; citizens' groups; private sector and nongovernmental organizations; and federal, state, local, and/or tribal governments.

“The Partners in Conservation Awards demonstrate that our greatest conservation legacies often emerge when stakeholders, agencies, and citizens from a wide range of backgrounds come together to address shared challenges,” the Secretary said. “In this case, the Bureau of Reclamation and Chickasaw Nation joined forces with with federal and state partners to combat the recent drought and protect the water needed by the Nation, the cities of Ada and Sulphur, Reclamation's Arbuckle Project and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.”

This partnership involved the late Harold Wingard, landowner, as well as the Chickasaw Nation, the Bureau of Reclamation's Oklahoma-Texas Area Office and Technical Service Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma State University, and Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

The Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer underlies about 500 square miles of south-central Oklahoma. In light of stresses placed on the aquifer and Byrd's Mill Spring from drought, the Chickasaw Nation is implementing an artificial recharge project to maintain and enhance spring flow at Byrd's Mill Spring by protecting the source Aquifer. The proposed recharge demonstration project is located near Ada on the property of the late Harold Wingard, a farmer and rancher who championed water conservation and graciously agreed to cooperate with Federal, state, and tribal governments on implementing this recharge project.

“These 26 awards recognize the dedicated efforts of thousands of people from all walks of life, from across our nation– and from across our borders with Canada and Mexico,” Salazar noted. “They celebrate partnerships that conserve and restore our nation's treasured landscapes and watersheds, partnerships that engage Native American communities, and partnerships that engage youth.”

The recipients of the Project for the Protection of Aquifer Resources in Oklahoma are:

Bureau of Reclamation

James Allard

Collins K Balcombe

W. Robert Talbot

Mark Trevino
Chickasaw Nation

Kelly Hurt

Wayne Kellogg
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Suzanne Van Cooten
Oklahoma Climatological Survey

Ken Crawford
Oklahoma Conservation Commission

Darrell Dominick

Robert Toole
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

John Craig
Oklahoma State University

Meghan Dailey

Todd Halihan

Yasemin Leventeli
Oklahoma Water Resources Board

Kyle Arthur

Duane Smith
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Robert W. Puls
Harold Wingard
Susan Paddack, Oklahoma State Senate

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