ADA — The Nature Conservancy and the Chickasaw Nation recently formalized a partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at the conservation of the Blue River system in south central Oklahoma. This river, fueled in large part by flows from the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer, is an ecologically significant aquatic system. The Blue River is also the only river in Oklahoma that is still entirely free-flowing, meaning that its water flows to the ocean without being impeded by man-made reservoirs.

“The key to conservation in the future is partnerships,” said Mike Fuhr, state director for The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma program. “When your goal is the conservation of a large system like this, it makes a lot of sense to work with others. We’re really excited to be working with the Chickasaw Nation to find collaborative, creative solutions aimed at conserving the Blue River within the framework of human needs.”

Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said the involvement of The Nature Conservancy will have a “significant impact” on conservation efforts.

“It is very meaningful to see the enthusiasm and experience The Nature Conservancy brings to this project,” said Anoatubby. “They obviously have a genuine appreciation for the beauty of the Blue River and a solid understanding of the importance of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer.”

“The recent drought is an obvious reminder of the importance of preserving our water supply,” said Brian Campbell, CEO of Chickasaw Enterprises. “The Chickasaw Nation is committed to the conservation of the Blue River and all of Oklahoma’s natural resources. We’re excited to partner with the Nature Conservancy on a project that will benefit residents in south central Oklahoma.”

The Blue River is important to the livelihood of the residents of the Blue River watershed and nearby counties. Local people depend on the river for its aesthetic beauty and high water quality. Many people in the area get their drinking water from the river or the aquifer that fuels the river’s flow. Ada, a city located north of the Blue River watershed, depends on the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and the Blue River for its municipal water supply. The Blue River is also a popular tourist attraction and an important trout fishery, making it important to the local economy. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has a Wildlife Management Area on the Blue River for fishing and recreational use.

Chickasaw Enterprises, a business entity within the Commerce Division of the Chickasaw Nation, operates more than 50 businesses including: entertainment venues, hotels, radio and newspaper properties, trading posts, travel plazas, restaurants and manufacturing facilities. Net income from Chickasaw Enterprises provides essential and vital services such as health care, aging, youth and family, educational and transportation services to the people of the Chickasaw Nation.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that conserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the conservation of more than 14 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in 28 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. In Oklahoma, The Conservancy is best known for its 39,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County. Visit for more information.




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