Good afternoon and thank you Senator Inhofe for the invitation to testify at today’s hearing. I am Verline Chervenka, and own 1,250 acres of property in northwestern Oklahoma near the Sayre, Oklahoma. As the video indicated, I’ve been involved with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program with other conservation programs for the last six years.
I manage my entire ranch for conservation and wildlife. Much of my property operates as a cattle ranch. Another two hundred fifty acres is used for raising wheat. Another part of the property contains natural gas wells with more being planned. . I have 315 acres that is dedicated strictly for conservation and wildlife.
Through cost-sharing with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture programs I have invested time and money in these acres and have reaped great rewards. For example, with help and coordination through the Partners Program I have restored 40 acres of wetlands on my property. Since that time this 40 acres has become a refuge for many waterfowl species, shore birds and wading birds. I also have an osprey that visits my wetland every spring, I guess on its migration back north This 40 acres didn’t need to be designated a refuge by the federal or state government. I made the decision to create a refuge on my own property. That is important to me, and that’s the kind of assistance that the Partners Program provides. These conservation practices have also turned my property into a sanctuary for wild turkey, as you saw in the video, and deer. Before my involvement in the Partners Program it was rare to find such game at all on my property. In fact, due to the success of the Partners Program on my property, other ranchers in Northwest Oklahoma have become interested and started their own projects.
I also want to especially thank the local Partners Program here in the Fish and Wildlife Service Office in Tulsa. I think it is very important to point out that the success of this program in Oklahoma is due in large part to the director of the Program, Jontie Aldrich. Jontie and his staff has done a great job in establishing a great reputation for the Partners Program in Oklahoma. The Partners team has worked hard to build a reputation of trust between the private landowners and the Partners Program. Landowners know that this Program is not about the federal government coming in and telling you what you can and can’t do on your own land. The Partners Program has developed a strong reputation of helping private landowners create habitat. The Program is appropriately named the Partners Program because it is a real partnership of government and private landowners working together. All states should have the great working relationship landowners in Oklahoma have with our Partners Program. I cannot compliment Jontie enough for his work.