Carl Lucero, USDA Ecological Services, Meets with OCC and OACD

Carl Lucero of USDA’s Ecological Services program in Washington with OCC and OACD on May 27 to trade information about the state’s carbon sequestration programs and federal initiatives to help market environmental credits.

Stacy Hansen, OCC’s Carbon Sequestration Certification Program (or Carbon Program for short) director, explained how the program will work and noted that Oklahoma is the first state in which a state agency will serve as the official verifying entity to certify carbon offsets. She reported that the permanent rules for the program had been approved in the 2009 session of the state Legislature which happened to be ending the same day.

Sarah Love, director of Oklahoma Carbon Initiative (a program of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts), explained that the program will “bundle” carbon offsets to be traded on carbon markets with industries in return for payments to landowners.

Lucero explained that he came to work in the Ecological Services from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He described how the agency is working to help facilitate the marketing of credits for environmental benefits created by agriculture and related endeavors, including water quality improvement and carbon sequestration.

Following the morning meeting in Oklahoma City, OCC, OACD and NRCS took Lucero on a tour hosted by Blaine County Conservation District. Steve House and Brandon Webb, Blaine County CD directors, discussed the fencing off of a riparian area through a cost-shared pilot program in the North Canadian River 319 Watershed Project that is enrolled in the Oklahoma Carbon Program.