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First Attraction Awarded ECO Certification
By Tourism Industry Partner
Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma (ECO) welcomed its newest program member, the Chickasaw Cultural Center (CCC), as a silver level certification in the state’s premiere sustainable travel certification program. The center, which is the nation’s largest cultural center, implemented their emphasis on conservation during the recent construction and opening of the facility.
Since 2009, ECO has welcomed 13 Oklahoma hotels, restaurants and events as certified members of the sustainable hospitality movement. CCC is the first attraction to receive the honor of ECO certification.
CCC focused on sustainability throughout its construction by creating methods of water conservation across its campus. The landscape includes buffalo grass, which uses 33 percent less water, silt retention ponds to control erosion, and rain gardens to irrigate the land. The center is also creating a recycling program to benefit the surrounding areas.
“The Chickasaw Cultural Center is working to preserve both its cultural heritage and the earth’s natural resources by showing a deep respect for the community,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “The Chickasaw Nation is an example to all Oklahoma attractions and communities for their thoughtful approach to sustainable operations.”
According to Paige Williams, director of tourism for the Chickasaw Nation, their commitment to sustainability is an extension of the Chickasaw Nation’s history of respect for the land.
“There is a profound understanding among our traditional people of the interrelatedness of all things in this world,” Williams said. “This commitment to good stewardship was based on the belief that by protecting the natural world, the people would in turn be protected and given balance. We feel that this perspective mirrors the goals of ECO.”
The cultural center, which has welcomed over 20,000 visitors since its opening in July, plans to partner with the city of Sulphur to address environmental issues within the community. Other environmental goals include reducing water consumption by 10 percent, implementing an aggressive recycling program, and encouraging employees to carpool to work.
“The simple fact is that going green is the right thing to do,” Williams said. “Our culture dictates that we respect the environment and all those who live within it. We see no reason to change that worldview now.”
In addition to the added benefits of saving money and protecting the health of employees, Williams also sees the green movement as a way to respect future generations.
“The well-being of our environment and the future of our people go hand in hand,” Williams said. “We believe that by taking care of our natural world, we are ensuring a healthy and safe environment for generations to come.”
Since 2009, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department and Department of Environmental Quality’s ECO Certification program has promoted, developed and encouraged sustainable tourism throughout the state. ECO Certification requires applicants to meet set criteria and be reviewed by a national certification board. A certification level of silver, gold or platinum can be awarded, based on the level of sustainable practices the applicant chooses to implement.
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) is working to advance the exceptional quality of life in Oklahoma by preserving, maintaining, and promoting our natural assets and cultural richness. The department is the steward of the state park system and also promotes Oklahoma as a travel destination through many award-winning programs. To learn more about Oklahoma Tourism visit www.TravelOK.com or follow us at www.Facebook.com/TravelOK or www.Twitter.com/OklahomaTourism.
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Contact: Austin Tackett