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$2.2 million to be spent on fish and wildlife habitat at Grand Lake in NE Oklahoma


Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma is arguably one of the most productive and scenic lakes in the state, and fish and wildlife conservation efforts at the 60-year old lake will be getting an additional boost thanks to a newly created fund.

The Grand River Dam Authority will be investing $2.2 million into habitat projects as part of a new Pensacola project (Grand Lake) fish and waterfowl habitat management plan. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation announced the new plan to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at the Commission s November meeting in Oklahoma City.

The money will come from the recently established Pensacola project fish and wildlife mitigation fund. The monies will be allocated for conservation projects over the next 20 years. In the initial year of the funding, $260,000 will be allocated, with $100,000 being added for the next 19 years. Conservation efforts in the future may include projects such as millet seeding, shoreline stabilization, installation of fish habitat structures or wetland development.

A technical committee will meet twice a year to discuss habitat projects. The committee has already met and approved an aquatic vegetation enhancement project at Grand Lake, which will be funded for the next three years.

In other business, Commissioners heard a report on a three-year trout stocking study in northeast Oklahoma. The goal of the study was to examine what impact the stocking of rainbow trout would have on the native smallmouth bass and the overall ecology of Brush Creek near Tahlequah. Department fisheries officials are planning on meeting with northeast Oklahoma landowners and fisherman to discuss the study.

Commissioners also took action on several personnel items. Commissioners approved a career incentive program which will be retroactive to July 1, 2003. To cover the salary and benefits costs of the program, the Commission voted to increase the 2004 fiscal year budget in the amount of $888,138. Additionally, the Commission voted to reduce the 2004 fiscal year budget by 20 full-time employees.

In other business, the Commission approved the creation of a new grants specialist position. The new employee will assist the federal aid and research coordinator in writing and reporting of federal sportfish and wildlife restoration grants as well as other grant funds. Since 1986 the Department s grant revenue has jumped from less than $2 million a year to more than $10 million in 2003.

Also at their November meeting, Commissioners recognized a pair of Department employees for their service to the sportsmen of the state. Dekota Cagle, state game warden stationed in Dewey County was recognized for 25 years of service and Linda Fergason, license cashier, was recognized for 20 years of service.

In housekeeping business, the Commission heard a report on the actuarial valuation report for the retirement plan from Diane Hunt from Mellon Consultants. The report showed that the retirement plan is 90.7 percent funded. No action was taken on this item.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The Commission approved dates for the 2004 Wildlife Conservation Commission meetings. Meetings are scheduled for Jan. 5, Feb. 2, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 12, Aug. 2, Sept 13, Oct. 4, Nov. 8 and Dec. 6.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is December 1 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 900 a.m.

 


 

 

 

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