FEBRUARY 2009 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 26, 2009

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 19, 2009

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 13, 2009

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 4, 2009

Archery in the Schools workshops scheduled for Oklahoma educators
            Schools across the state have a chance to get involved in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program by attending an upcoming workshop.
            “Schools who have not jumped at the opportunity to join the OAIS program are really missing out, but there is still plenty of room for them in the program,” said Lance Meek, OAIS coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “We'd love to have them participate with us, and I'm certain this is a program their students can really get involved in and enjoy. Archery is a sport that just about any student can excel at and enjoy for a lifetime if you put the right tools in their hands. This program does just that.”
            The free workshops are held for teachers interested in bringing the program to their schools. Schools who send a teacher to attend the eight-hour workshop become eligible for a grant that covers approximately half of the cost of a complete OAIS program kit. The kit includes everything a school needs to start the program, including bows, arrows, targets, safety nets, curriculum and training for a fraction of the full cost.
            Coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Archery in the Schools is part of a national program that partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation's archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The program began in the fall of 2004 with eight Oklahoma schools taking part in the pilot program. Since then it has grown considerably, with more than 150 Oklahoma schools now involved. About 10,000 students participated in the program last school year, and it's continually growing.
            The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th-graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.            Students who go through OAIS training are given an opportunity to participate in a sport that allows them to compete with other students their age while also developing and succeeding at their own pace. The program caters to students by helping them work toward improving their own skills and competing with their own best efforts. Additionally, students who do not excel at other sports can still be among the best archers.
            This year about 1,200 students are expected to compete at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Oklahoma Archery in the Schools State Shoot April 1 at the Cox Convention Center. Nearly 800 students competed last year at the fourth annual Oklahoma Archery in the Schools State Shoot at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, nearly doubling the previous year's attendance. By the end of the shoot, more than 15,000 arrows had sailed across three UCO gyms and into targets. Almost one hundred Wildlife Department employees, a crew of volunteers and the support and help of UCO made last year's shoot the biggest and best yet.
            “Last year our state shoot outgrew the facilities at UCO, so this year we will be holding the shoot at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City,” Meek said. “The success of this program shows in the fact that we keep having to move to bigger locations for the state shoot, but that also shows that kids are enjoying it and schools support it.”
            In order to be eligible for a grant, a school must send a teacher to an eight-hour workshop where they will learn how to conduct the program at their school and instruct students in archery.
            Two upcoming workshops are scheduled for Feb. 11 in Owasso and in Stratford.
            Teachers interested in learning more about the OAIS program or in starting the program at their school should contact Meek between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
            Additional information on the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program can be found online at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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H&H Gun Range to host free hunter education instructor workshops
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has announced the dates for its 2009 hunter education workshops to be held free of charge at H&H Gun Range Shooting Sports Outlet in Oklahoma City.
             “Volunteer instructors are crucial to the success of our hunter education classes statewide,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “We also rely heavily on our partners like H&H.  We couldn't get hunter education done without the involvement of our community.”
            Miles Hall, founder of H&H Gun Range Shooting Sports Outlet, looks forward to hosting the workshops and adding to the number of Oklahoma hunters.
            “Having helped teach thousands of hunters in the past, we're looking to build our base of instructors in anticipation of teaching thousands more,” Hall said.
            Volunteer instructors teach and assist in numerous classes throughout the state each year, making hunter education more readily available for more Oklahomans. Volunteers help set up and teach classes, assist other instructors and represent the Wildlife Department and sportsmen of the state.
            Annually, the Wildlife Department certifies approximately 15,000 new sportsmen and women to enjoy Oklahoma's great hunting opportunities.
            According to Meek, the most important quality for a volunteer instructor is to be a safe and ethical hunter, but there are also a few steps to becoming certified, such as attending a workshop and receiving a background check.
            “Now is a good time of the year to start the process of becoming a hunter education instructor,” Meek said. “There is plenty of time to work through the process of becoming an instructor before our busiest time of year in the Fall, and there is time to gain confidence and learn everything you need to know to teach hunter education.”
            Workshops are scheduled for Feb. 7, June 13, Aug. 8, and Dec. 12, 2009, at H&H Gun Range, located at the I-40 and Meridian area in Oklahoma City (400 S. Vermont, Suite 110).
            For more information about hunter education in Oklahoma, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com


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More than 14,000 extra rainbow trout stocked in Lower Mountain Fork River this spring
            Each year, the Lower Mountain Fork River (LMFR) is stocked bi-weekly with rainbow trout, but the southeast Oklahoma fishery will receive six “bonus” stockings this spring that will provide more than 14,000 additional fish.
            The first two supplemental trout stockings took place Feb. 5 and Feb. 12, and the remaining four are scheduled for Feb 26, March 12 & 26 and April 9. Each stocking includes over 2,400 fish that are nearly a foot in length.
            “These trout are going to be placed in remote areas of the stream that aren't usually stocked,” said Jay Barfield, streams management technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “And at 11 inches they will be a bit larger than usual and ready to put up a fun challenge. Angling should be great in these areas during the coming weeks.”
            The additional rainbow trout are being provided to the Wildlife Department by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help offset the impacts caused by Broken Bow Dam on the LMFR. The trout will be obtained from the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery in Arkansas and then released into the LMFR trout fishery between the State Park Dam and the US Route 70 bridge.
            Oklahomans, who may be more accustomed to catching bass, catfish and crappie, have taken well to rainbow trout angling, and rainbow trout have taken well to Oklahoma waters since they were first introduced to provide a new sport fishing opportunity. The LMFR is one of eight Oklahoma trout fisheries and one of two year-round trout fishing hotspots in the state. Additionally, trout have done so well in the LMFR that both rainbow and brown trout occasionally reproduce naturally in its waters.
            Among the popular fishing destinations at the LMFR are Lost Creek and Evening Hole, both renovated during the summer of 2006 as part of an extensive trout habitat project. Lost Creek is a 1,200 ft. long stream that branches off from the river and flows through a wooded area before emptying into the Evening Hole trout fishing area. The Evening Hole is a 1/3 mile stretch of the LMFR that was once less hospitable to trout because of warm, slow-moving water and a silty bottom. However, streams biologists saw the potential in the area and felt if they could narrow the channel and provide more habitat, the trout — as well as trout anglers — would quickly begin using the area. Biologists used 600 dump truck loads of soil to narrow the river channel, causing the water to remain cooler and move through the Evening Hole faster. With the addition of large rocks, logs and islands, fisheries personnel transformed once sub-par trout habitat into a first class fishing area.
            To view the regular, bi-weekly trout stocking schedule and specific regulations for all the state's trout waters, including the LMFR, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site also includes tips on how to catch trout as well as a wealth of information about the state's streams management program, which works to provide healthy streams and better stream fishing in Oklahoma.
 
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NatureWorks art show slated
            Every year wildlife and nature artists from across the United States and abroad convene on the Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center to bring visitors the annual NatureWorks Art Show and Sale. This year more than 50 artists are expected to display their work Feb. 28 and March 1.
            Art featured at the show includes everything from paintings and photography to sculptures and more. The 2009 feature artist is John Phelps, a painter and sculptor from Dubois, Wyo. A lifelong cowboy, Phelps is known for using his extensive experience in horse packing, hunting and fishing to bring his subject matter to life.
            The annual art show is sponsored by NatureWorks, Inc., a Tulsa-based nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting in wildlife conservation efforts and wildlife education opportunities. The NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale has generated matching grants to assist a variety of state wildlife conservation projects.
            “Hundreds of unique pieces will be on display and up for sale; including paintings, carvings, sculptures and more,” said Vic Bailey, current president of NatureWorks. “Twenty-five percent of the artist's proceeds will be donated to NatureWorks to support conservation efforts. Because NatureWorks is a non-profit organization, this portion of the sale is tax-deductible for all buyers. In the past, donated funds have helped purchase land, construct hiking trails, and improve wildlife habitats throughout the state, as well as provide scholarships for student wildlife artists.”
            Projects such as the Department's paddlefish management program, duck stamp print program and centennial duck stamp print have benefited from NatureWorks' support along with habitat work at the Harold Stuart Waterfowl Refuge Unit within the Deep Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Grassy Slough WMA. NatureWorks also has been an important supporter of the Wildlife Department's Hunters Against Hunger program, in which hunters can donate their legally harvested deer to feed hungry Oklahomans.
            Hours for the NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Tickets are $5. The Tulsa Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center is located at 6808 South 107th East Avenue (71st and US-169) in Tulsa. For more information about NatureWorks or the art show, log on to natureworks.org.
 
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Outdoor TV legend honored in Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
            Oklahoma's own Don Wallace, former angling television show host known for producing The Wallace Wildlife Show in the 1960s-80s, was recently inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame for the year 2009.
            At one time the Oklahoma-based show had grown so popular that its host syndicated it for broadcast in the Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas areas as well as parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas. The Wallace Wildlife Show rose in 1974 as America's top-rated fishing show.
            “We're very proud of Don Wallace and his accomplishments that played a role in his induction into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “His impact on the sport of fishing and the legacy he created as an outdoor television host really does make him a legendary outdoor communicator. Our congratulations go out to Don.”
            Over the years, The Wallace Wildlife Show had an immeasurable impact on the state of Oklahoma, its hoards of anglers and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. It taught thousands of people how and where to catch fish, and by airing in out-of-state markets, the show also directed millions of tourism dollars to Oklahoma by luring anglers to its waters.
            Though the show was a success, Wallace still faced many challenges along the way. After stints at several radio stations, Wallace joined Oklahoma City's WKY in Oklahoma City in 1958. After a few years of unsuccessful attempts to convince station managers to produce a sportfishing television show, his persistence finally paid off when, in 1965, he was given the go-ahead to host a 15-minute angling show. By 1971, the show was so popular that managers allowed him to expand the show to a full 30 minutes. The show also moved to a primetime slot that aired head-to-head with perhaps the most popular TV show of the era—Marcus Welby, MD.
            After 23 years and some 920 shows, Wallace made his last cast on The Wallace Wildlife Show in Jan. 1989, when he decided to retire. During his career, he shot more than 800,000 feet of film.
            Wallace's name will be added to a prestigious group of 43 others recognized as “Legendary Communicators” in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. The honor recognizes his contribution, dedication and service to the fresh water sportfishing industry.
            Wallace wasn't expecting the induction but is grateful to have been selected.
            “It was quite a surprise,” Wallace said. “I am thrilled to death about the whole thing.”
            Wallace said he worked many long hours during his filming days, but said promoting the sport of fishing through television at a time when there weren't many outdoor television shows airing across the country was a “labor of love.”
            Artifacts from The Wallace Wildlife Show can be viewed on display at the Oklahoma History Center's Field, Forest and Stream exhibit. The Oklahoma History Center, near the state capitol, has been featuring the exhibit since April and includes historic artifacts, images and photography, audio-visual elements and hands-on interaction relating to the outdoors in Oklahoma. The exhibit will remain open until Feb. 28.
            To learn more about the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, log on to freshwater-fishing.org.
 
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Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area receives new bridge — and increased access for bat watchers
            On Jan. 23, a 98-year-old piece of history was moved to Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area in northwest Woodward Co. when a bridge built in 1911 was donated, transported and put in the place of a bridge that was washed away during a flood in 2007.
        The bridge, which used to be employed at a location about two and a quarter miles east and three miles south of Burlington over Driftwood Creek, was donated by Alfalfa County District One Commissioner Doug Murrow. With help from Woodward County District 1 Commissioner Ralph Triplett and District Two Commissioner Ted Craighead, the bridge was placed over Trader's Creek on the Selman WMA. Also helping with the placement of the bridge were Billy Bailey, David Devoark, Gary Carpenter, John Cutright, Steve Thompson and Bob Kimminau.
        “One of the Selman Bat Watch volunteers saw the bridge and took it upon himself to contact the county commissioner, asking him about the donation,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The commissioners did not hesitate to help, with both the transport and placement of the bridge. This is a perfect example of how two different counties came together in order to benefit wildlife conservation.”
Since 2007, a large portion of the WMA was not accessible because there was no crossing point along the creek, but with the donated bridge, the public now has increased access to portions of the WMA.
        “Having support like that shown by the commissioners in Woodward and Alfalfa counties is the key ingredient to keeping wildlife populations healthy in our state,” said Hickman. “The Department does not receive any tax money and relies solely upon the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as well as the generosity of everyone in the state. The Department of Wildlife Conservation would like to express their sincere appreciation to Commissioners Murrow, Triplett and Craighead.”
Along with a new bridge comes a continued partnership between the Wildlife Department and Alabaster State Park. Staff and volunteers at Alabaster have been an essential part of the Selman Bat Watch that takes place on the WMA each summer.  
        Selman Bat Cave WMA is a tract of 340 acres that contains one of only five maternity colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats in Oklahoma. Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to Oklahoma each summer in order to raise their young. While in the state, the bats provide a financial benefit by consuming an estimated 22,000 pounds of mosquitoes, moths and beetles each night. This year marks the 12th year for bat watches to take place at Selman Bat Cave WMA. Sign-up for this year's bat watches will begin in June. For more information about area or the bat watches, please visit wildlifedepartment.com or watchbats.com.
 
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Last chance to experience Oklahoma History Center’s Field, Forest & Stream exhibit
            Throughout the last year, the Oklahoma History Center has been celebrating Oklahoma’s outdoors by showcasing an entire exhibit dedicated to the history and traditions enjoyed by Oklahoma’s sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts. As the exhibit comes to a close Feb. 28, Oklahomans who have not made their way to see it are encouraged to visit the Oklahoma History Center, located near the state capitol in Oklahoma City.
            In April 2008, the Oklahoma Historical Society converted over 2,000 square feet of the History Center into the interactive experience called “Field, Forest & Stream: The History of Oklahomans and the Outdoors.” The exhibit includes historic artifacts, images and photography, audio-visual elements and hands-on interaction relating to the outdoors in Oklahoma.
            “In the Field, Forest & Stream Exhibit there are many fascinating stories that illustrate how Oklahoma has become the outdoor success story it is today,” said David Davis, curator of special exhibits for the Oklahoma History Center. “Come to the Oklahoma History Center and help us celebrate our outdoor heritage before the exhibit closes!"
            Visitors can walk down the exhibit’s “Forest Trail” and view taxidermy dioramas and take part in an interactive hunting blind. The “Water Trail” lets guests experience the sensation of the exciting sport of noodling, or fishing with nothing but one’s bare hands, and an inviting, lifelike campfire in the “Camp Trail” area offers guests a place to sit and listen to camp stories told by historic Oklahoma figures.
            “Field, Forest, & Stream: The History of Oklahomans and the Outdoors” has been possible through the support and participation of individuals, groups, and businesses such as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, outdoor television producer Don Wallace and the producers of the On the Water In the Woods television show, and so far visitors have made the exhibit a popular one.
            Visitors have until Feb. 28 to see the exhibit, and those who show their current Oklahoma hunting or fishing license will receive $1 off admission through the end of the exhibit.
            The Oklahoma History Center is an 18-acre, 215,000 square-foot learning center exploring Oklahoma’s unique history through Smithsonian quality museum exhibits and a state-of-the-art research library. The new home of the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Oklahoma History Center is located just east of the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Historical Society was originally organized in 1893 and continues today as a statewide center for learning, preserving, and promoting the history and heritage of the diverse people of Oklahoma through its museum, research, outreach, and historic preservation divisions. The Oklahoma Historical Society serves people of all generations by promoting appreciation and understanding of Oklahoma’s rich history and the impact of that history on the present. For more information call (405) 522-0765 or visit okhistorycenter.org.
 
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Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers sportsmens’ auction and banquet
            Safari Club International is characterized by its support of conservation and sportsmen, and their active Oklahoma Station Chapter is offering sportsmen the chance to contribute as well by attending their 24th Annual Awards Banquet and Charity Fundraiser Saturday, March 7 in Oklahoma City.
            The banquet will be held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and will feature a live auction where bidders will have a chance to buy guided hunts around the globe, ranging from feral hog hunts at Oklahoma’s Chain Ranch to big game hunts in Africa. Other auction items include selections of outdoor clothing and decor, firearms, hunting knives camping equipment, fishing trips and much more. A continually updated list of auction items can be viewed on the Oklahoma Station Chapter’s Web site at oklahomastationsci.org.
            “Starting as a young boy over 50 years ago, the opportunity to learn about the outdoors and to hunt has added greatly to my appreciation and enjoyment of life,” said Mike Mistelske, current vice president and nominee for president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter. “It’s a privilege now to be able to give something back through SCI here in Oklahoma. I invite our fellow Oklahomans and their friends to enjoy this special banquet and to add their own support of our great hunting tradition and the conservation of our wildlife. Each hunter’s support is more important now than ever.”
            The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International offers support and funding to local conservation efforts that benefit the sportsmen and wildlife of Oklahoma. The chapter is a supporter of projects conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, such as the Hunters Against Hunger program that coordinates the annual distribution of over 30,000 of pounds of venison to needy families. The Chapter is also a sponsor of the Wildlife Department’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, which educates tens of thousands of Oklahomans each year on the value of wildlife and the outdoors to quality of life in Oklahoma.
            The organization also has helped fund the purchase of an airboat used by the Wildlife Department on waterfowl surveys and other wetland management tasks, and a 24-foot trailer for use in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP). The STEP program introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms. The Oklahoma Station Chapter also partners with the Wildlife Department each year to hold an annual youth essay contest that provides youth a chance to share their feelings about Oklahoma’s outdoors and to win great prizes, including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico. Additionally, the chapter purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma.
            The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, but registration begins at 4:30 p.m. Craig Boddington and various outfitters and wildlife artists will be available starting at 5:30 p.m. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd St. in Oklahoma City 73111.
            SCI membership is not required to participate in the banquet and raffles, or to be eligible for door prizes. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $75 or at the door for $100. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Verilea Faust at (405) 721-7229 or e-mail faust4v@pldi.net. Ticket forms may also be printed and either mailed, faxed or e-mailed through the Chapter’s Web site at oklahomastationsci.org. Bid cards for the auction are available to members at no cost. For non-members, bid cards ($50) or memberships ($85) may be purchased at the door if desired. For questions relating to the banquet and auction, contact Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI vice president Mike Mistelske at mjmistelske@yahoo.com.
            For more information on the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International, log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
 
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Trout Unlimited banquet to kick off March
            Trout angling hasn’t always been a part of Oklahoma’s outdoor recreation landscape, but since their introduction to the state’s waters, trout have not only thrived, but they also have provided an exciting sport fishing opportunity. Anglers can celebrate the success of trout angling and fisheries conservation this year by attending the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s 14th annual banquet and auction Saturday, March 7.
            All anglers and their friends are welcome to attend the banquet, to be held at the Sportsman’s Country Club in Oklahoma City. Tickets are $30, and activities include dinner, raffles and silent and live auctions. Items can be previewed starting at 5:30 p.m. and the live auction begins at 7 p.m.
            To purchase tickets, or for other information about the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited, contact Don Longcrier at (405) 613-5535 or dglsll@swbell.net, Tom Adams at (405) 751-7376 or Jerry Walker at (405) 760-6245. The Sportsman’s Country Club is located at 4001 Northwest 39th St. in Oklahoma City.
            For more information about trout angling in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com
 
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Trout Unlimited banquet to celebrate Oklahoma trout fishing
            The first trout were stocked in Oklahoma in 1958 in the Illinois River below Tenkiller Lake.  Many things have changed in the last 50-plus years, but one thing is certain — the quality and quantity of trout fishing opportunities has been getting better ever since.
            Anglers can celebrate the success of trout angling and fisheries conservation this year by attending the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited's 14th annual banquet and auction Saturday, March 7.
            “We have a great time at our annual banquet and I hope that every trout angler in the state can come join us,” said Brian Ellis, immediate past president of the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “Come early and stay late, and don't worry, this is not a formal affair. Just come in your fishing shirt and blue jeans and you'll fit in fine.”
            According to Ellis, spouses and kids also are encouraged to attend the banquet, to be held at the Sportsman's Country Club in Oklahoma City. Tickets are $30, and activities include dinner, raffles and silent and live auctions. Items can be previewed starting at 5:30 p.m., and the live auction begins at 7 p.m.
            “We have a bunch of great fishing tackle and equipment to auction off this year, and the best thing is Trout Unlimited puts the money right back into trout fisheries,” Ellis said.
            Since 2001, the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited has provided the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation with $18,483.50 for a wide range of conservation projects. This money has been matched by 3-1 with federal Sport Fish Restoration program funds, providing over $73,934 for conservation work, primarily on the Lower Mountain Fork River and the Lower Illinois River.
            Since 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration program has contributed about $3 billion to improving sport fishing and boating opportunities in the United States. Funding for the program is derived from special federal excise taxes on certain fishing gear, boats and motor fuel that are then distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state wildlife agencies such as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for fisheries improvements.
            “The Wildlife Department is grateful for the support of groups like the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and we hope anglers who enjoy trout fishing in our state will take every opportunity to support this organization by attending the banquet on March 7,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            One of the crown jewels of this partnership in action is the habitat management work at the Lower Mountain Fork River's Evening Hole and Lost Creek, both renovated during the summer of 2006 as part of an extensive trout habitat project.
            The Evening Hole is a 1/3-mile stretch of the Lower Mountain Fork River that was once less hospitable to trout because of warm, slow-moving water and a silty bottom.
            However, streams biologists saw the potential in the area and felt if they could narrow the channel and provide more habitat, the trout — as well as trout anglers — would quickly begin using the area. Biologists used 600 dump truck loads of soil to narrow the river channel, causing the water to remain cooler and move through the Evening Hole faster. With the addition of large rocks, logs and islands, fisheries personnel transformed once sub-par trout habitat into a first class fishing area. Lost Creek is a 1,200 ft. long stream that branches off from the river and flows through a wooded area before emptying into the Evening Hole trout fishing area.
            The projects would not have been possible without the support of many partners like the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
            Visitors to the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited banquet are likely to see several of the state's newest wildlife conservation license plates. The artwork for the striking plate, which features a leaping rainbow trout, was provided by the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
            The license plates can be ordered by picking up a form at your local tag office and following the instructions or visiting the Oklahoma Tax Commission in Oklahoma City. At no additional cost, anyone can have their license plate personalized.
            This year Trout Unlimited is celebrating it's 50th year in conservation in 2009. The organization was started in 1959 by 16 fishermen in Michigan who wanted to protect their local river, and since then TU has grown to 140,000 members in 400 local chapters throughout the country.
            TU has been instrumental in restoring more than 10,000 miles of rivers and streams around the country and has been a force in protecting habitat for trout and salmon from Alaska to Maine. Since its founding, TU and its local chapters and volunteers have made numerous tangible contributions to conservation in the United States
             “As TU celebrates its 50 years of conservation, we must bear in mind that it is TU volunteers who have made the organization what it is today,” said Bryan Moore, vice president for Volunteer Operations and Watersheds. “TU members are the backbone that keeps the organization growing and moving forward in everything from on-the-ground restoration of rivers and streams to involving young people in conservation. The 50th anniversary celebration is really a celebration of our 140,000 members around the country.”
            To purchase tickets, or for other information about the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited, contact Don Longcrier at (405) 613-5535, Tom Adams at (405) 751-7376 or Jerry Walker at (405) 760-6245. The Sportsman's Country Club is located at 4001 Northwest 39th St. in Oklahoma City.
            For more information about trout angling in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Groundbreaking ceremony held for new facility at Arcadia Conservation Education Area
            Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and guests gathered recently at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area, where they broke ground on a 7,000 square-foot education facility that will provide outdoor experiences to youth.
            “We've had a vision for this property for many years,” said Wildlife Department Director Greg Duffy. “And I am very happy with our dream becoming a reality thanks to our many partners in this endeavor.”
            The teaching facility will be the centerpiece of the Arcadia Conservation Education Area and will be used for a number of purposes, including hosting hunter education and aquatic education courses and training teachers involved in the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools program. Construction of the building is targeted for completion by December 2009.
            “It is critically important to provide opportunities for youth to learn about the invaluable natural resources that Oklahoma has to offer, especially in this day and age when our population is becoming increasingly urban and it is more challenging to get children outdoors,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Environment J.D. Strong. “I want to thank the Wildlife Department and its partners for making the Education Center a reality, and I look forward to future generations of environmental stewards who will benefit from this facility.”
            Secretary Strong joined Edmond Mayor Dan O'Neil, University of Central Oklahoma Vice President of Sport and Wellness Mark Herrin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Col. Anthony C. Funkhouser and Wildlife Department Director Duffy in breaking ground for the education facility.
            “We are excited for all the advantages this area will bring to the community,” Funkhouser said. “The ODWC is helping kids appreciate the environment.”
            The Wildlife Department has managed 720 acres of property on the south side of Lake Arcadia for 13 years as part of a 50-year lease from the US Corps of Engineers. Known as the Arcadia Conservation Education Area, it has a 4,000 square-foot research facility that was constructed on the area three years ago. It also hosts hundreds of students each year who attend education events held underneath covered pavilion areas on the property.
            In the last year, Wildlife Department personnel have held at least 20 fishing clinics on the area as part of the Department's aquatic resource education program. Through the program, the Wildlife Department trains volunteer instructors to teach youth the basics of fishing and to instill appreciation for the state's natural resources. Everything from fish identification to knot-tying, fish cleaning, fish cooking techniques, fishing tackle selection, water safety and more is covered in the classes.
            “We are confident this is going to be the premier outdoor education facility in the region, and it will have a significant impact on youth and conservation in Oklahoma,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department.
            Officials are currently working on a number of projects including improving walk-in fishing access, cedar removal and nature trails. Wildlife experts are conducting bird, butterfly and small mammal inventories on the site. The education area is located near an urban setting, but it supports populations of deer, turkey, bobcats and other wildlife.
             “We all know that youth are our future, and we want to create a first-class area where we can educate our youth and give them a positive experience in the outdoors,” said Damon Springer, aquatic education coordinator for the Wildlife Department.
            All hunting seasons are closed on the Arcadia Conservation Education Area except controlled archery deer hunts, which are offered through the City of Edmond. More information is available at edmondok.com.  Walk-in fishing is permitted year-round in Arcadia Lake, including the lake's shoreline in the conservation education area, but not in any ponds. While camping facilities are not available on the education area, campsites are available on other portions of the lake. The Arcadia Conservation Education Area is closed to all non-hunting and non-fishing activities from Oct. 1 through Jan. 15. For additional information, contact Damon Springer at (405) 521-4603.
 
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NatureWorks art show approaching
            Every year wildlife and nature artists from across the United States and abroad convene on the Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center to bring visitors the annual NatureWorks Art Show and Sale. This year more than 50 artists are expected to display their work Feb. 28 and March 1.
            Art featured at the show includes everything from paintings and photography to sculptures and more. The 2009 feature artist is John Phelps, a painter and sculptor from Dubois, Wyo. A lifelong cowboy, Phelps is known for using his extensive experience in horse packing, hunting and fishing to bring his subject matter to life.
            The annual art show is sponsored by NatureWorks, Inc., a Tulsa-based nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting in wildlife conservation efforts and wildlife education opportunities. The NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale has generated matching grants to assist a variety of state wildlife conservation projects.
            “Hundreds of unique pieces will be on display and up for sale; including paintings, carvings, sculptures and more,” said Vic Bailey, current president of NatureWorks. “Twenty-five percent of the artist's proceeds will be donated to NatureWorks to support conservation efforts. Because NatureWorks is a non-profit organization, this portion of the sale is tax-deductible for all buyers. In the past, donated funds have helped purchase land, construct hiking trails, and improve wildlife habitats throughout the state, as well as provide scholarships for student wildlife artists.”
            Projects such as the Department's paddlefish management program, duck stamp print program and centennial duck stamp print have benefited from NatureWorks' support along with habitat work at the Harold Stuart Waterfowl Refuge Unit within the Deep Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Grassy Slough WMA. NatureWorks also has been an important supporter of the Wildlife Department's Hunters Against Hunger program, in which hunters can donate their legally harvested deer to feed hungry Oklahomans.
            Hours for the NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Tickets are $5. The Tulsa Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center is located at 6808 South 107th East Avenue (71st and US-169) in Tulsa. For more information about NatureWorks or the art show, log on to natureworks.org.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, March 27, at Rose State College.
            “Working for the Department is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Tom Steed building. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” Gutierrez said. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/.
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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