FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts announce partnership to reduce the environmental footprint of Sooner State visitors

Oklahoma City-People coming to visit Oklahoma will soon have a method to lower the environmental footprint of their trip while promoting natural resource conservation through a new initiative announced today by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD).

“We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Tourism,” said Sarah Pope, Director of OACD’s Carbon Initiative.  “By working together we can help folks offset their carbon emissions and other environmental impacts produced from traveling by offering them credits generated by conservation practices that sequester carbon while protecting our soil, water, air and wildlife habitats.  This is a great program and a big win for the environment.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department will sell an ECOpass through the webstore on www.TravelOK.com. The ECOpass is available in $5, $15, and $30 denominations which equates to different levels of carbon credits that are created by practices such as no-till farming and strip-till farming, grass plantings, tree plantings and improved pasture management.  All of these practices are encouraged by the Conservation Districts of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reduce non-point source pollution in water, conserve soil, improve wildlife habitat and sequester carbon. 

Research shows that these improvements to the land can store or ‘sequester’ anywhere from .5 to 1.2 metric tons of carbon in soil per acre, per year, helping reduce overall carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere while addressing other natural resource concerns.  Landowners who undertake these practices have the ability to sell these carbon credits through the OACD Oklahoma Carbon Initiative with verification provide by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Carbon Program.  This new partnership between OTRD and OACD will allow those coming to Oklahoma who wish to reduce their environmental impact to purchase these credits.

“The Tourism Department works to offer more sustainable choices for visitors traveling in and to Oklahoma,” said Hardy Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “The ECOpass is a meaningful way to both reduce a traveler’s environmental impact while also benefitting Oklahoma farmers and ranchers who are implementing sustainable practices.”

OACD President Trey Lam said that this partnership is another way conservation districts and the Oklahoma Conservation Partnership are helping landowners conserve the state’s Natural Resources.

“This new initiative with Tourism is a great way to promote conservation of our natural resources, reward good stewardship of the land and highlight the good work that is going on in Oklahoma,” Lam said.  “By facilitating the sale of these credits to folks who are coming to Oklahoma we are helping promote sustainable tourism while showcasing the ongoing efforts to protect our environment.  This is a great program that helps showcase Oklahoma nationally and puts dollars in the pocket of those folks going the extra mile to protect our natural resources.  This is a great program and we are excited to be a part of it.”