Sequoyah County CD Hosts Legislative Tour

Sequoyah County Conservation District Hosts Dam Tour for Legislators

State Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. Bud Smithson attended a tour of area watershed flood control dams on Sept. 20. The Sequoyah County Conservation District and the Sallisaw field office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service hosted the tour. Representatives for U.S. Sens. James Inhofe and Tom Coburn and Rep. Dan Boren, also attended.

Robert Toole, OCC Conservation Programs director (left), answers questions from tour participants at Sallisaw Creek Site No. 32.

The purpose of the event was to inform and educate state and federal legislators on the importance of flood retarding structures in Oklahoma. The tour included three Sallisaw Creek flood retarding structures that have been classified as high hazard. In many cases dams that were originally built in rural and agricultural settings have now been enveloped by suburban development. In any case where one human life could be endangered should such a dam fail, the rating of the dam changes to “high hazard” status.

Sallisaw Creek Site No. 37 served as an example of a site where operation and maintenance work was recently performed. The site also reflects the average height, length and drainage area of the 2,105 structures in Oklahoma. Sallisaw Creek No. 32 served to demonstrate the purpose of planned rehabilitation to enhance protection to the city of Sallisaw. Site No. 6 demonstrated the need for current operation and maintenance work to keep structures functional and in good operating condition.

Sequoyah County Conservation District (SCCD) directors attending were Harrell Lee, Todd Lenington, Charles Smith, and Virginia Stites. SCCD staff were Gary Taylor, equipment/watershed manager; Pat Fentress, secretary; and Audra Fenton, NRCS district conservationist.

Representing the Oklahoma Conservation Commission were Mike Thralls, executive director; Robert Toole, Conservation Programs director; and Dennis Boney, watershed technician. Larry Caldwell, watershed specialist and engineer, represented the NRCS state office. The tour concluded with a working luncheon in which Robert Toole made a presentation on past, current and future benefits for the infrastructure provided by flood retarding dams.