Three of our four sets of grandparents were homesteaders in Oklahoma. Thus we have been involved in agriculture and land management for many years. Our family has been a cooperator with the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program for about 10 years. This Program has helped us develop 3 wetlands on riparian zones in 213 acres of tallgrass prairie. Cattle are excluded by fencing from these wetlands to maintain water quality (reduced turbidity), provide nesting cover for resident waterfowl, and provide a fall/winter/spring food source for migrating waterfowl and other wildlife. The water control structures on these wetlands allow us to change the water level to facilitate the growth of plants that benefit both fish and wildlife. Freeze-proof stock tanks installed below these wetlands provide a dependable source of high quality water for cattle (no water born diseases or liver flukes) and eliminates the need for chopping ice during cold weather.
Over the years, this project has been greatly enjoyed by our family and others. We have hosted public school groups for conservation education and our Boy Scout troop camps around these projects monthly. We have also hosted Quail Unlimited Field days and cattlemen's tours on the value of the Partner's Program to landowners. The Partners Program is not only valuable to fish and wildlife habitat management but also contributes to rural economic development and diversification for ranching and farming enterprises by increasing landowner's ability to lease for recreation.
For the past 31 years I have worked with private land owners as a consultant in rangeland and forestland management with an emphasis in restoration of native plant communities for integration of wildlife and livestock enterprises. For the past 25 years I have worked for Oklahoma State University in research and extension targeting the needs of private landowners. Habitat for wildlife and livestock can be mutually beneficial as demonstrated on many farms and ranches in Oklahoma and elsewhere throughout the country. The Partners Program is an integral part of natural resource initiatives that benefit private lands and environmental quality. The Partners Program is complementary to other private, State, and Federal programs that help landowners plan, implement, and maintain conservation practices on their land.