GRDA’s Eagle Pass

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Eyes on the prize… A bald eagle keeps a watchful eye on the water near GRDA’s Pensacola Dam. However, it’s also a great time of the year for visitors to put their eyes back on to the eagles.

All year long, the Grand River Dam Authority’s lakes region is a great place to see all sorts of wildlife and waterfowl. However, this is a yearly reminder that right now is an especially good time to see American Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles below Pensacola Dam, at an area GRDA has designated as “Eagle Pass.” 

From mid-December through March, this area below the dam is a haven for the eagles as they hunt for small fish, often snatching them off the surface of the water, or even stealing them from other birds. The best time to watch the birds in action is early in the morning.

To access Eagle Pass, follow Broadway Avenue south out of Langley, Oklahoma to N4475 Rd (the road that runs below Pensacola Dam). Go east on N4475 until you cross the bridge, then turn right (south) onto the dirt road and follow it around to the eagle viewing areas.

The location is a quiet spot for viewing the majestic American Bald Eagle (Hailaeetus leucocephalus) in the area; the only eagle unique to North America.

The American Bald Eagle’s range extends across most of the continent from Northern Canada and Alaska all the way down to northern Mexico.

The eagles, both males and females, are recognizable by their blackish-brown backs and breasts with yellow feet and bills. They also have white heads, necks and tails.

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), has a much broader range, and can be found not only in North America (and below Pensacola Dam) but also in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

These birds are dark brown and the plumage on their heads and necks is a lighter golden-brown. Typically their feathers go all the way to their toes, while the American Bald Eagle has more leg showing.

GRDA’s Eagle Pass area is just one of many locations where eagle watching is a popular winter past-time.

The birds can also be found below GRDA’s Robert S. Kerr Dam as well as at many other dams and lakes across the state.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Cold weather boating? Keeps these tips in mind

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Winter in the water …. A GRDA Police boat makes its way across the waters of Lake Hudson on a cold January day. If you plan on doing any wintertime boating, GRDA is sharing some important cold weather boating tips you should keep in mind.

The temperatures have been going up and down so far in 2019, but that is pretty typical for January in Oklahoma. However, even on the cold days many folks still consider this time of the year to be perfect for a visit to GRDA lakes. In fact, boating, fishing and hunting take place all around the lakes, all around the year.

And that means that a commitment to safe boating should be a year-round activity as well. If you plan on hitting the water this season, here are a few cold weather boating tips you should keep in mind:

  • First of all, cell phones: There is less traffic on the water this time of year, which means fewer boaters around to assist you if you get into trouble. Therefore, having a working a cell phone is vital for emergency or non-emergency help.
  • A whistle – attached to your life jacket – is also an important for winter-time boaters. If you can produce a loud and effective call for help with a whistle, you will use less energy than shouting for help and waving your arms.
  • If you do have trouble and go into the water, remember that cold water can rob your body of its heat 25 times faster than cold air and that means the time of exposure needed to experience hypothermia is drastically reduced. Thus, if your boat does capsize, your main priority is to get as much of your body out of the water as possible. If possible, climb on the overturned vessel or nearby debris, or get to the nearest shore or dock.
  •  Also, in cold winter temperatures, wet clothing is actually colder than less clothing and can lead to hypothermia more quickly. Remove as much of the wet clothing as possible, as soon as possible. You will be warmer with less clothing than with wet clothing.
  •  Of course, whether you are boating in January or July, it is also important to file a “float plan” any time you visit the water. Let someone know where you intend to be boating, who is going with you and when you expect to return.
  •  Finally, and always, wear a life jacket.

 Your friends at GRDA hope you keep these tips in mind when you head to the lake this winter.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Looking back on GRDAs’ 2018: Part 4

This week we close out our look back on GRDA’s 2018 with a quick review of the last three months of the year. While the summer season is always busy around GRDA and its waters, there was also plenty going on in the fall as the year began to wind down. Here are a few highlights …

On a mutual aid mission …. GRDA employees work to clear brush and restore power near Tallahassee, Florida in October, following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael. As in previous years, GRDA crews responded to neighboring states in 2018 to provide mutual aid. GRDA “looks back” on this moment, and others in our review of 2018.

October: Down along the coast, October usually means hurricane season and, unfortunately, that trend continued in 2018. However, so did the Team GRDA trend of providing mutual aid. On October 9, a group of 31 GRDA employees headed out for Tallahassee, Florida to assist with repairs to that city’s electric system, following Hurricane Michael.

November: In mid-November, GRDA’s “champion chili cooks” from each facility came together for the grand finale chili cook-off, held in conjunction with the November GRDA Board of Directors meeting. Transmission’s Laurel Swift took the top prize but, more importantly, the cook-off served as a fundraiser for GRDA’s Oklahoma State Employee Charitable Campaign and raised nearly $1,300 for charities in the month of November. Altogether in 2018, GRDA employees raised nearly $18,000 for charity.

December: As we entered the last month of 2018, GRDA was receiving recognition as a finalist for the 2018 Power Award of Excellence at the 2018 S&P Platts Global Energy Awards in New York City. Though the Authority did not win the top prize, it was selected as a global finalist for its recent contributions and investment in power generation, as well as other factors. For GRDA, it was a great way to conclude the year and a strong platform to build on in 2019.

Team GRDA wishes you and yours a safe and prosperous New Year!

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Looking back on GRDAs’ 2018: Part 3

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Reading, writing and rivers … Students participate in the Journey to the Bottom of the Creek workshop along the Illinois River in July 2018. GRDA was proud to work with other organizations to help make this event possible. It is one of the highlights as we look back on GRDA’s summer of 2018.

In our third installment of GRDA’s 2018 In Review, we look back at the busy summer months. From summer camps and river clean-ups to shoreline workshops and other lake activities, there was a lot going on. Here are some highlights…

July: With summer’s arrival in Northeast Oklahoma, students moved from the classrooms to the river bank and lake shore. GRDA was proud to team with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma State University Extension Office to host both the Journey to the Bottom of the Creek and A Grand Adventure workshops for students. The day-long camps focused on water quality and conservation, aquifers, as well as other creek-side and lake-side experiences. Plans are already in the works for 2019 events.

August: In August, GRDA said goodbye to longtime board member and Grand Laker Ed Townsend, who completed his term on the board. Also that month, Joe Vandeiver (Owasso) ended his yearlong term as board chairman before handing the gavel over to Tom Kimball (Owasso) who is serving as the current GRDA Chairman. Also that month, Jim Richie (Jay) was chosen by his fellow board members to serve as chair-elect in 2018-19.

Down on the Illinois River, the GRDA Float Crew, which cleans up trash and recyclable materials along the river bank, reported that it had collected 103 pounds of aluminum during its mid-summer campaign. Like the Grand Lake Adopt The Shoreline program, which kicked off earlier in the year, this cleanup effort promotes safety, scenic views and helps GRDA fulfill its stewardship mission.

September: In September, the education opportunities continued as GRDA helped to host lake management personnel from all across the country during a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) workshop. Among other activities, the group learned to build artificial (Rush For Brush) fish habitats at Wolf Creek Park, in Grove. They also had the chance to learn about other GRDA lake management practices.

Next week, our review continues with a look back at the last three months of 2018.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

 

Looking back on GRDAs’ 2018: Part 2

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Tour time for Tech Team … In June, GRDA’s Grand River Energy Center (GREC) played host to administrators from the Oklahoma Career Tech system. This week, we look back on that event and others from April, May and June.

As we continue our look back at GRDA’s 2018, we turn our attention this week to some of the activities that took place in the spring and early summer… 

April: The Grand Lake “Adopt the Shoreline” program, resulting from a cooperative agreement between GRDA, Grand Lake Sail & Power Squadron and various Grand Lake stakeholders, kicked off during the month. The ongoing effort utilizes volunteers from around the lake, working in adopted “zones” to help keep the shoreline clean, safe and scenic. We’re looking forward to more program successes in 2019.

Also in April, GRDA lent a hand to its Western Oklahoma neighbors by transporting hay to farmers and ranchers impacted by drought and wildfires in that area. The hay was donated by residents near Vinita, loaded onto GRDA semis and delivered to those in need in the Vici, Oklahoma area. 

May: For GRDA, the month of May got off to a great start when it received an “Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters” award on May 1, at the National Hydropower Association Conference in Washington, D.C. The award recognized GRDA’s ongoing “Rush For Brush” program and it successes.

Also in May, GRDA continued its support for education by once again participating in Mayes County’s “Third Graders Go To Work” program at the Ecosystems Center in Langley.

June: In June, GRDA had the opportunity to tell it story to both area civic leaders and educators. Early in the month, GRDA President/CEO Dan Sullivan was the keynote speaker during the Rotary Club of Tulsa’s June meeting. That same week, GRDA’s Grand River Energy Center (GREC) played host to 40 Oklahoma Career Tech administrators who had the chance to see the inner workings of the new GRDA Unit 3, as part of a larger tour of Oklahoma industry.

Next week, the year-in-review continues with a look back at the busy summer months.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.