A public meeting will take place at 6 p.m. March 12 at Woodward’s High Plains Technology Center to gather input from hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts about the possible lease or sale of Cooper Wildlife Management Area for wind power development.
The Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board that sets policy for the Department of Wildlife Conservation, has created a subcommittee to look at wind-power issues, and make a recommendation to the full Commission regarding specific offers the Wildlife Department may receive for purchase or lease of its properties.
“We have a letter of interest from OG&E about Cooper,” said Greg Duffy, Wildlife Department director. “The Commission is looking at this issue closely because it is a policy decision that could impact several other areas in western Oklahoma that are owned by the Department.
“For people who are interested in voicing their opinion, but will be unable to attend the meeting in Woodward, we would encourage them to go to our Web site and e-mail us their comments. We will compile all comments and make sure that they are presented to the Wildlife Commission.”
On a personal note, I believe this meeting can set an important precedent regarding our public hunting areas. In recent years, hunters and anglers have had to purchase an Oklahoma Legacy Permit which is supposed to fund the purchase and upkeep of our public access areas.
If it now becomes common practice to purchase lands for public access using money raised from a Legacy Permit only to sell them off later at a profit, I have a problem with the Legacy permit. For this reason, I believe it is important for everyone to voice their opposition to this sale or lease.
While a lease would keep the area in the WMA classification, I am not sure how many people would enjoy the hunting atmosphere where there are dozens of huge propellers spinning above their heads.
This area is also one of the last protected areas holding the Lesser Prairie Chicken. For that reason alone, I believe it should be protected.
As of now, I am planning to travel to Woodward to attend this meeting. Anyone wishing to attend the meeting is more than welcome to meet me in Oklahoma City to car pool. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wildlife Department’s Web site can be accessed at www.wildlifedepartment.com. You can e-mail your comments to email@example.com.
24 February 2008
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