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By Lindsay Vidrine
The Canebrake resort in Wagoner, OK has become the first location in the state to be certified as a sustainable tourism destination. ECO, or Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma, is a program through the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that promotes, develops and encourages sustainable tourism throughout the state. The Canebrake has proudly been awarded Gold Certification.
Hardy Watkins, OTRD executive director, said certifying The Canebrake resort is the first step in providing sustainable tourism options for travelers in Oklahoma. “I would like to congratulate The Canebrake on becoming the first ECO Certified destination in Oklahoma,” Watkins said. “The ECO program and the Tourism and Recreation Department realize the need for sustainable tourism in our state. The Canebrake’s gold certification marks the beginning of sustainable tourism opportunities for patrons of Oklahoma, and The Canebrake should be commended on their efforts for making sustainability one of their top priorities.”
The Canebrake offers guests a relaxing, rejuvenating escape in northeastern Oklahoma’s Green Country. Sam Bracken, The Canebrake owner, said the spa resort was built upon sustainable principles that continue to drive the Bracken family’s business practices. “The ECO program fits with our mission to be good stewards of the Earth in what we build, how we hire employees, the food we prepare and the building materials we use,” Bracken said. “Each and every one of us has to take responsibility for what we consume. We try to do the best we can financially and realistically to use sustainable products because it is the right thing to do.”
ECO Certification is a program that began in 2009 and requires applicants to meet a set of criteria prior to certification. Data from each location is analyzed and referred to a national certification board for a final review. A certification level of silver, gold or platinum can be awarded, based on the level of sustainable practices the applicant chooses to implement. There are seven categories for travel and tourism related businesses and organizations to choose from when applying for ECO Certification.
From eco-friendly furnishings at our state park cabins to sustainable operations at private facilities statewide, it’s becoming easier than ever to find green travel options in Oklahoma. For more information on the ECO program or sustainable destinations in Oklahoma, visit www.TravelOK.com.