By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — On Thursday, March 5, citizens, tribal representatives, and public interest organizations dedicated to protecting Oklahoma’s water resources will gather in Oklahoma City at the State Capitol’s 2nd floor rotunda for Oklahoma Water Lobby Day.
This event seeks to educate the general public and state legislators on a variety of topics that impact Oklahoma’s water. Groups will share information on Oklahoma aquifers, lakes and rivers and the issues impacting them.
Leading off the event at 1:45 p.m., special guest Casey Camp-Horinek, Director of the Environment for the Ponca Nation, and a world leader on climate action and the Rights of Nature movement, will share her story about the importance of protecting Oklahoma’s water.
“There is no issue more fundamental than ensuring our water is protected for coming generations,” said Camp-Horinek. “Water is sacred. It is not a business commodity.”
Conservation and environmental organizations will set up table displays to share how they and their members benefit from, and enjoy the use of, abundant water resources in Oklahoma in the 2nd Floor Rotunda from 1 – 5 p.m.
Participating groups include: Trout Unlimited 420, Save the Rush Springs Aquifer, (STIR) Save the Illinois River, Oklahoma Sierra Club, Green Country Guardians, ORWP (Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy), Local Environmental Action Demanded (L.E.A.D.) Agency, and Green Country Guardians.
“Oklahoma Trout Unlimited is a conservation organization dedicated to protecting our vulnerable fisheries,” said Pat Daly with Trout Unlimited Chapter 420. “Lack of minimum water flow rules, excess nutrients from confined animal/chicken feeding operations, river discharge of chemicals and oil field waste and overreaching water transfers all threaten our valuable fisheries.
“Fishing is one of the largest revenue generators in Oklahoma with 15,432 jobs, producing $148,216,301 in Federal tax revenues and $99,623,056 in State and local tax revenue,” Daly continued. “It deserves full protection and a seat at the table on all key committees and decision making boards at the state capitol.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop common sense solutions that will allow businesses, tourism and our great fisheries to thrive,” Daly said. “Protect our water.”
This year’s event will also feature participation from students from Tulsa’s Emerson Montessori school.
Approximately 30 teachers and 10 parents will make the trip to the Capitol accompanying teacher Nikki Turner’s class.
“There is no better way to teach our youth about government than to see it in action, and then have the students participate in it first-hand,” Turner said.
Oklahoma Sierra Club will host a training session for any person interested in learning about citizen-based lobbying.
“I think people often look at lobbying as a dirty word, or as a special skill that only ‘professionals’ can practice,” said Johnson Bridgwater, Executive Director of Oklahoma Sierra Club. “The truth is, anybody who has an opinion to share with their elected officials can be a lobbyist.”
To close out the day, there will be a formal media event in the 4th Floor Press Room #432B, at 4:30 p.m.
Registration information and more details about this event is available online.