OPJV Grassland Restoration Incentive Program aided by Newfield Foundation Grant


EDGEFIELD, S.C.  The Oaks & Prairies Joint Venture (OPJV), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and private landowners in Oklahoma have benefited this year from a $30,000 grant from Newfield Exploration Company’s Foundation. The Company is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas. The OPJV Grassland Restoration Incentive Program (GRIP) is a voluntary private landowner financial incentive with the objective of encouraging land management practices that address greatest limiting factors for suitable grassland bird habitat.

Prescribed burning is a very cost-effective land management tool use to restore native grasslands in Oklahoma. (photo courtesy of OPJV)  ​

Northern bobwhites, other grassland birds and Rio Grande wild turkeys benefit from restoration efforts.  Oak prairie savannah habitat in south central Oklahoma supports good numbers of wild turkeys with proper management encouraged by such efforts.  “Prescribed burning, mechanical brush control, and reseeding of lands to native prairie mixtures are typical practices used by private landowners on working farms and ranches,” said Ken Gee, OPJV Conservation Delivery Specialist.

(left to right) Newfield employees Brook Simmons, Doug Jordan and Dolores Vasquez; Zach Boothby; Newfield employee Mike Pontiff, NWTF’s Luke Lewis; Newfield employees Kirby Carroll and Rita Dennis; and, NWTF’s Gene T. Miller and T. J. Goodpasture at The Woodlands, Texas. (photo courtesy Newfield)

Dr. Jim Giocomo, OPJV Coordinator explains, "We know that voluntary private landowner cooperation is critical to restoration of habitat for declining grassland birds and other wildlife, as 97% of the landscape is privately owned."

Dolores Vasquez, The Newfield Foundation Director added, "Newfield is proud to be associated with private land conservation endeavors through organized efforts like the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture in Oklahoma and Texas. This is part of our ongoing mission to support beneficial organizations and projects in the communities where our employees live and work."  The Newfield Foundation funds were matched to other state, federal, and partner funds for a total $6 million project over multiple years in Oklahoma and Texas, including private landowner contributions.                     

(left to right) OPJV Coordinator Jim Giocomo; OPJV board members Russell Stevens and Jeff Pennington; OPJV Management Board Chairman Tim Connolly; OPJV Conservation Delivery Specialist Ken Gee; and, OPJV Management Board Member and NWTF biologist Gene T. Miller at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area.

Leah Lowe, NWTF Wildlife Biologist working with landowners on this project in a multi-county region in central Oklahoma says, "This partnership is a natural fit with habitat goals for the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative and Focal Landscapes that we have identified for work in Oklahoma, and funds provided by The Newfield Foundation to help bolster this effort are greatly appreciated."  Lowe added, "We anticipate that upwards of 2,000 acres of habitat will be enhanced or conserved as a result of this contribution."

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.

For more information, contact Gene T. Miller at (806) 803-0180

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