Mason Mungle Named Water Pioneer
Former OCC Executive Director Honored at Governor's Water Conference
|With Mason at the Water Pioneer Award luncheon were OCC Area I Commissioner Matt Gard (left) and Area II Commissioner Mike Rooker (right)
|Above, from left are OCC Financial Management/Human Resources Director Steve Coffman and Executive Director Mike Thralls, Mason and his wife Renee and their sons Heath Green and Miles Mungle, and OCC Assistant Director Ben Pollard.
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board named Atoka native Mason Mungle to its prestigious list of Oklahoma Water Pioneers at the Governor’s Water Conference on Oct. 28. The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) nominated Mungle for his career contributions to the state in care and control of water resources.
Mungle served as executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission from January 1986 to October 1997. Previously he had served on the board of directors for the Atoka County Conservation District from 1978 to 1985 and during that time had served on the OACD executive board.
During his tenure as Conservation Commission executive director, Mungle was instrumental in developing an effective state nonpoint source pollution water quality management program and fostered partnerships with numerous other agencies to address the issue as it grew in importance in the eyes of the public. At the same time he championed flood protection in the state by improving the operation and maintenance of Oklahoma’s 2,100 upstream flood control structures. He worked with Congress to develop a program to rehabilitate flood control dams so they can continue to provide Oklahoma with flood control benefits. That work came to fruition with the Watershed Flood Control Amendments Act of 2000 authored by Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas.
Mungle also pursued a vision of the beneficial impact that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) hold for natural resource conservation management today and in the future. That vision led to the creation of the State Geographic Information Council and the Office of the State Geographic Information Coordinator.
Other achievements Mungle made to conserve and protect the quality of water in the state of Oklahoma include the following:
- The Conservation Commission was directed by the Governor to write the state’s first nonpoint source assessment report and management program.
- For the first time in Oklahoma history, the state legislature appropriated money to the Conservation Commission for cost-share assistance on water quality projects.
- Statutes were changed through legislative action establishing the Conservation Commission as the lead technical agency for nonpoint source programs, including nonpoint source monitoring and assessment of streams. The agency was also given responsibility for directing the activities of the Nonpoint Source Working Group.
- Partnership activities increased in addressing water and environmental issues. Those partnerships include universities, environmental groups, cities and towns, state and federal agencies and Native American tribes.
- Promoted the first urban conservation program in Tulsa by introducing the “Blue Thumb” urban water quality monitoring program into the state.
- Promoted erosion and sediment control workshops for engineers, city inspectors, home builders and Department of Transportation personnel.
- Water Quality Division staff increased from 6 to 20 and the division’s budget increased from $200,000 to $1.5 million to help carry out increased activities and programs to conserve and protect Oklahoma’s nonpoint water quality.
- The Conservation Commission became a leader in promoting the use of higher technology approaches to management of the state’s natural resources, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and the Internet.
- Early on Mungle realized the importance of GIS in environmental analysis. Of particular note are Mungle’s efforts to apply GIS technology to analyze and manage the impact of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO)on Oklahoma’s water quality. As chairman of the 14-member state GIS Council, Mungle actively promoted interagency cooperation in the areas of data sharing and standardization.
- Mungle also directed creation of maps of the Cimarron River Watershed, Washita River Watershed, and Peacheater Creek Watershed. These maps were prepared for such purposes as pollution analysis, Scenic River designation and flood control analysis.
- On January 19, 1993, as president of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA), Mungle signed the historic “Conservation Partnership Agreement,” renewing and rededicating the partnership among NASCA, the National Association of Conservation Districts and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (today know as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Before leaving the Conservation Commission, Mungle served as the original chairman of Governor Frank Keating’s Animal Waste and Water Quality Task Force.
After leaving the Conservation Commission Mungle worked for 10 years for the Oklahoma Farmers Union as a liaison to the state Legislature. In that role, as he worked for the benefit of farmers, ranchers and rural development, he continued to promote the care of our soil and water resources. In his current position as executive director of the Oklahoma Farmers Royalty Company he continues to spread the idea that agriculture, rural development and industry can walk hand-in-hand wise use and conservation of the state’s natural resources.