Recovery funding coming to state for new dams and wildlife habitat

Conservation Commission pleased with announcement

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission is pleased with U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s April 16, 2009, announcement that two new small watershed upstream flood control dams will be built in Oklahoma under the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). That will raise the number of such dams in the state to 2,107 — more than any other state. This project includes Dam No. 3 and Dam No. 8 in the Turkey Creek Watershed that will, in combination, directly protect from flooding eight bridges and eight county roads downstream. These will be the second and third of 11 dams planned for the watershed that, when the entire project is completed, will protect 13,722 acres, 18 homes and businesses from flooding. These two dams were selected from a backlog of over 300 more upstream flood control dams planned for Oklahoma. The current infrastructure of dams provides $75,000,000 in million in annual estimated benefits from reduced flood damages and other benefits.

“We are pleased that the USDA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are investing in new flood control dams in Oklahoma,” said Mike Thralls, executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “Oklahomans know the value of our network of 2,105 flood control dams. We are hopeful that Congress will continue to appropriate funds for new dams beyond this stimulus program,” Thralls said.

The Turkey Creek Watershed Project extends into four counties in north-central Oklahoma. Those counties are Alfalfa, Major, Garfield and Kingfisher Counties. Turkey Creek Dam No. 3 lies in Garfield County and Dam No. 8 lies in Alfalfa County. The local sponsors for the dams, who will take responsibility for operation and maintenance after construction, will be the Garfield County and Alfalfa County Conservation Districts, respectively. Federal funds in Sec. Vilsack’s announcement for the construction of the two dams total $1,670,000.

Vilsack’s announcement also included $100,000 of ARRA funding for tree plantings to restore wildlife habitat at two existing flood control dams. At Upper Red Rock Creek Dam No. 52 in Noble County, completed in August 2006, $60,000 has been designated for 19 acres to be planted with native tree species to compensate for habitat lost due to construction of the dam. At Stillwater Creek Dam No. 33C in Payne County, completed in April 2006, $40,000 has been designated for 12 acres to be planted with native trees to compensate for loss of habitat due to the construction of that dam.