Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which was held adjacent to the river on the preserve grounds. Assistant Secretary Castle extoled the conservation work being done at the site through protection and restoration, along with the exceptional partnership that had been orchestrated by the Conservancy in putting the project together. A young burr oak tree was planted on the grounds next to the river to symbolize the future restoration of the site to its former riparian forest state.
“America’s Great Outdoors” is a program established by President Obama to recognize our historical outdoor heritage and to encourage people of all ages to spend more time outside, enjoying the wonders of nature and the benefits that they provide to human health and spirit. Assistant Secretary Castle urged entities in the area to continue to work together for the benefit of conservation of the Blue River and the people who live in the area. The Chickasaw Nation, Inasmuch Foundation, Dolese Brothers Company, the Macklanburg Foundation, and Rudy and Deb Hermann were the key partners in securing the property for the Conservancy’s first freshwater-based preserve in Oklahoma.
Also present at the ceremony were Joy Nicholopoulos, Deputy Regional Director, Southwest Region, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Bruce Noble, Superintendent, Chickasaw National Recreation Area & Oklahoma State Coordinator, who served as master of ceremonies; and Amy Ford, President, Citizens to Protect the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer (CPASA). Jay Pruett, Director of Conservation for the Conservancy, gave a welcome to those in attendance and Jona Tucker, Director of the Oka’ Yanahli Preserve, gave a brief overview of the preserve itself. Stephen Greetham spoke for the Chickasaw Nation regarding the project and the partnership between the Chickasaws and the Conservancy. Agency representatives and invited guests enjoyed the remarks, the pleasant fall day and the soothing sound of Bruno Falls on the nearby river.
The dignitaries later toured the Tishomingo National Fish hatchery, the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area as part of the day’s festivities. The agencies and organizations will all meet again in October to begin discussions about how best to partner in conservation of the Blue River area.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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