The Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. This week, our work was featured on NWF’s website as Affiliate of the Week:
In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, and their commitment to wildlife.
WHO WE ARE
The Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma (CCO) is built to amplify the voice of conservation throughout Oklahoma. Created to bring together many great conservation organizations in Oklahoma, this young organization is creating a new, pivotal space in the OK conservation landscape.
Large and small state organizations are now working together to influence the state legislature as well as work toward species and habitat issues such as the decline in pollinators like monarch butterflies and strong Conservation Title in the next Farm Bill.
WHAT WE DO
Oklahoma is one of the most diverse states in the Union in terms of its habitat and biota. The state is rich with native songbirds such as the scissor-tailed flycatcher — the state bird — and game species like bobwhite quail and white-tailed deer.
It is also a strong state for agriculture and oil and gas development. CCO works to ensure that the state maintains a profitable economy through its natural resources and at the same time strongly protects its water quantity and quality and the habitat for all species.
Recently, the CCO and its many conservation partners worked together to fight against a potential constitutional amendment that would give agriculture special status in Oklahoma. State question 777, or the “Right to Farm” package was passed though the 2015 state legislature and put on the ballot for November 8 of this year.
The language on the ballot would have taken away the ability of the state legislature to have any oversight of state agriculture in the future. This means that any oversight would have fallen on the federal government, something that the people of Oklahoma – a strong states and property rights state – are very concerned about. It was critical for conservation organizations to take a stand against this unneeded constitutional amendment. Many groups stood together to fight this effort and the amendment ended up failing with by around 290,000 votes. This was a major victory for all of the conservation organizations that stood against the state question.
The CCO is now working with these organizations to develop a dialog with local farmers and ranchers to support their efforts toward profitable agriculture that is balanced with thoughtful conservation efforts. The CCO will create a space to support the next federal Farm Bill with a strong Conservation Title that supports programs that will help farmers and ranchers.
The CCO is also working to develop a 501 (c) 3 organization, the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma Foundation, which will focus on conservation education, getting kids and families outdoors, and other efforts critical to Oklahoma conservation. The new Foundation will also provide funding to organizations that wish to conduct education or outreach efforts which further advance conservation in Oklahoma.
MAKING A NATIONAL IMPACT
Recently, the CCO hosted a statewide summit to develop a plan for pollinators like monarch butterflies. More than 50 stakeholders engaged at this day-and-a-half event that began the process of developing a statewide strategy. This was an excellent event that kicked off the engagement of Oklahoma in a national issue with very strong regional impacts.
Monarchs are in serious decline right now and the central states of this nation are pivotal in supporting a strong future for this species. States are creating plans to support monarchs in the future, and now Oklahoma has begun its engagement in this important work.