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Wetlands Reserve Program - Oklahoma

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There are a wide variety of wetland types found across the state of Oklahoma. The climate tends to get warmer and wetter as one moves across the state from northwest to southeast. As a result, the predominant wetland type changes from playas in the panhandle to riparian areas and depressions throughout the prairies to the bald cypress swamps of McCurtain County in the extreme southeastern corner of the state. In Oklahoma, as in many areas of the country, wetlands have been drained for agricultural uses. As a result, approximately 67 percent (nearly 2 million acres) of wetlands were removed from the landscape over the past 200 years. Both on a nationwide basis and in Oklahoma, bottomland hardwood forests have been especially hard hit. Estimated decreases in forested wetlands in LeFlore and McCurtain Counties suggest that approximately 84 percent of Bottomland Hardwoods have been destroyed since 1960. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in Oklahoma emphasizes the restoration and protection of these ecoregions, which contain critical waterfowl habitat (Oklahoma Conservation Commission, 2000).

Accomplishments

Since 1999, Ducks Unlimited has assisted the NRCS with reforestation and hydrology restoration activities in Oklahoma. Accomplishments to date include reforestation of bottomland hardwoods (i.e., planting of bare-root seedlings and containerized trees) on 5,529 acres enrolled in the WRP. Additionally, hydrology restoration measures have been completed on 10,353 acres, thus providing valuable moist-soil habitats for wintering waterfowl.

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