GRDA and Quail Forever: The POWER Program

Quail habitat being prepared in a GRDA right-of-way. The work was done as part of the innovative POWER Program, which is a partnership between GRDA and Quail Forever.

Because of the roughly 1,200 miles of high voltage electric transmission line rights-of-way it has running across Northeast Oklahoma, the Grand River Dam Authority has been able to lend a hand to a popular feathered friend.

In 2009, GRDA partnered with Quail Forever to formally introduce the POWER (Private Owners Working for Ecosystem Restoration) program to help enhance the habitat for the Northern Bobwhite.

Throughout many places in Northeast Oklahoma, native bobwhite habitat has been replaced by monocultures of introduced fescue or Bermuda grasses. In other places, the land has been overrun with woody vegetation with little grass cover at all. The POWER program is working to change that.

According to GRDA Ecosystems Management Director Dr. Darrell Townsend, the program is designed to blend the needs of GRDA, Quail Forever and bobwhite enthusiasts. POWER promotes and supplies the necessary tools required to implement sound wildlife management practices on private lands. It also provides technical assistance to landowners through coordination with biologists from Quail Forever and the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department.

Private landowners enrolled in the POWER program are taught the importance of native grass restoration to bobwhite recruitment and are discouraged from mowing rights-of-way during the nesting season. They are also provided with sound wildlife habitat management techniques and assistance in implementing those techniques on participating POWER lands.

“The POWER program is a good match for GRDA and Quail Forever,” said Townsend, “because it is consistent with GRDA’s mission to be a conservation and reclamation district. While the transmission line rights-of-way are important to our mission of providing power, the POWER program helps insure that land is preserved for other beneficial purposes as well.”

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

                 – Justin Alberty
GRDA Corporate Communications Director