The River Parks Authority approved two measures on Thursday designed to make its plans to acquire more lands around Turkey Mountain more attractive to Vision 2025 renewal voters.
The board voted 4-0 to accept a $5.6 million non-recourse loan from QuikTrip Corporation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation to fund the accelerated purchase of lands “in the vicinity of Turkey Mountain.”
The resistance has reached a clear and eloquent critical mass, a decided ripening that’s accelerated over the past few months. Simon has twice requested additional time to prepare for its meeting with the Planning Commission, which is now expected to take place June 17.
As the past few weeks have unfolded, we’ve seen a growing number of voices who are opposing construction of an outlet mall at Turkey Mountain. Some are individuals, and some are turning into more organized groups. It points to the fact that there is a strong interest in preserving Tulsa’s biggest and best urban green space.
Noting this, there are some important distinctions to be made.
The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition was founded on the belief that there needs to an open dialogue between the various owners of Tulsa’s wild spaces and those who visit them. The goal was that this would bring everyone closer together and foster greater care for one another and the world around us.
Yes, our formation as a coalition was prompted by a potential commercial development on an urban wilderness. But no, we are not a protest group.
• Yes, we are against the mall.
• No, we as a group are not against Simon malls or any other corporate entity.
The TUWC was formed with a long-term goal in mind. As we carefully decided what our group was to stand for, we came back with some basic fundamentals:
The first of those is respect. Respect for one another, the land and respect for those who have a different vision than we do.
The second is that in order to be users of the wilderness, we also need to be good stewards of the land. We need an active role in preservation. This is why we host cleanup days quarterly as well as other projects that help maintain and preserve the land.
The third is that facts speak louder than any rhetoric ever could, that the TUWC would become a clearing house for all facts dealing with Tulsa’s urban wilderness spaces. This is why we present all information from all sides on our website. We trust that Oklahomans want what is best for the world around them and that given the facts would arrive at the same conclusions that we do.
The fourth is to share this wonderful space with as many people as we can. To encourage them to live a more active and healthy lifestyle in whatever way they physically can. The TUWC regularly hosts guided walks of Turkey Mountain so that others may feel more at ease in the wilderness and also be taught how to respectfully use the trails and why these spaces are so important.
In short, we Celebrate Local Wilderness by standing on the basic principles above: Preserve, protect and promote the responsible use and enjoyment of Green Country’s urban wildness areas for current and future generations.
This Mooser Creek Greenway Plan celebrates the rich natural, cultural and political history of the basin, and presents a plan developed by the citizens that preserves the best of what is there, while ensuring that quality future growth and development can continue to enhance the livability of the southwest Tulsa area.
-Bill LaFortune Mayor, City of Tulsa
In line with the Comprehensive Plan, residents want to see as much of the basin’s wildlife habitat and vegetation retained as possible, its floodplains and steep slopes protected, and its rural-residential character preserved. Although the Okmulgee Expressway Corridor is zoned for commercial development, there is a clear consensus against the creation of a sprawling, high-intensity, 24-hour business complex like the one at Woodland Hills, which would obliterate the watershed’s natural beauty and unique character. (V-6)
With Thursday’s news of land donations to Turkey Mountain, it’s important to take a long view back to what made this happen. In addition to lands donated by the city of Tulsa to the Tulsa River Parks Authority, the George Kaiser Family Foundation donated even more, bringing the total to around 400 acres. These donations triple River Parks Authority’s land inventory at Turkey Mountain.
GKFF has been a forward-thinking entity when it comes to preserving land at Turkey Mountain, buying up parcels for well over a decade. It has been patient, waiting for the city to commit to a vision for the area that dates back to the late 1970s – to keep that section of land along the Arkansas River as wild and free as possible, for the purpose of giving Tulsans a place to enjoy the outdoors in a natural setting.
The trend has been heading that way. Plans for an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain’s western edge were loudly rejected by the public, and the city listened. The land was included in the latest Vision Tulsa sales tax package, taking it off the market.
Next came dealing with the inherent instability of Turkey Mountain’s land leases. Monthly lease terms meant the possibility existed that lands leased to RPA could be wild one month, then developed commercially the next. A master lease program has ended that, providing a more stable and clear future for Turkey Mountain.
And now we have Thursday’s land donation, the moment that GKFF and many other advocates for Turkey Mountain have been waiting for. A hodgepodge of public and private land holdings is now being further unified, which will give planners the needed certainty that Turkey Mountain can be a long-term site for outdoor recreation.
For years, Turkey Mountain has been a magnet for mountain bikers, runners, hikers and nature enthusiasts. We now have greater assurance that this quality-of-life asset will remain so for the foreseeable future. Turkey Mountain serves as an important site for preserving the health of the city’s air and water, and is a major asset in the area’s promising outdoor recreation economy.
Thursday’s news is good for all Tulsans, now and in the future. For this, we owe the George Kaiser Family Foundation no small amount of gratitude. Its long-term thinking is paying off.
The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition applauds today’s action by the city in regards to transferring its land on Turkey Mountain to the River Parks Authority.
This will ensure the long term health a viability of wild green space in Tulsa, along with the benefits that come along with it. Preserving that land is a major win for local conservation, and will go a long way toward giving Tulsans a healthy outlet to get outside and be active.
It also builds on the city’s ability to tap into Oklahoma’s outdoor recreation economy, one that provides $3.1 billion in wages and $663 million in state and local sales taxes every year. Tulsa has a unique opportunity to become a destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts in Oklahoma and beyond and further diversify its economy.
As another year draws to a close it is important to look back at what we have accomplished to better plan our goals for the new year. While we reflected the one thing that stuck with us was how much commitment Tulsa is showing to a renewed sense of community. A deep desire to be outdoors and a measurable value in what we have. Tulsa, again you leave us happy and speechless. Thank you.
Earlier this week, cold winds whipped a wildfire that burned a large section of Green Mountain, a popular trail running and hiking area near Lakewood, Colorado. Footage of the fire was dramatic, and there were moments when people wondered if nearby homes and apartments would need to be evacuated.
Halfway across the country, in eastern Tennessee, more fires — fueled by a deep and particularly nasty drought — ravaged the wooded hills and mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, eventually surging into the popular tourist down of Gatlinburg. The results, as you may well know, were devastating: Hundreds of structures burned, including many homes and businesses, and eleven people were killed.
Investigators are still examining these fires to determine a cause. But one person, in North Carolina, has been arrested for intentionally setting a wildfire there, and there is some anecdotal evidence that the Green Mountain blaze was started by someone making a fire ring campfire high on the mountain. Officials in Tennessee say the wildfire that devastated Gatlinburg was caused by humans.
We bring this up because as it stands, northeastern Oklahoma is in a drought. There are rains expected to come within the next week, but for 2016, the Tulsa area has received 11 inches below what is normal thus far, fully a third less rain that what we typically see in a year.
— Campfires or cooking fires are not allowed at Turkey Mountain. It might be tempting to find a quiet corner of the park and roast some marshmallows, but don’t do it. It puts the park at risk and is illegal.
— If you’re a smoker, refrain from doing do at Turkey Mountain. Hot ashes, cigarette butts and discarded matches can easily start a forest fire.
— Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails, mostly out of consideration for people on foot or on bikes. But motorized vehicles can also spark fires from the heat generated by engine parts.
— Fireworks are illegal at Turkey Mountain and would be a major risk for wildfires.
— Avoid any other activities that would create sparks.
Many of you likely have noticed the charred trees serving as a reminder on the west side of Turkey Mountain. It’s critical that we take care of the woodlands at Turkey Mountain and other popular wildlands in northeastern Oklahoma. It’s even more urgent during times of drought, when tall grasses have gone dormant and are dry, and when fallen leaves and deadfall wood litters the forest floor. All of this is potential fuel for wildfires, and we certainly do not want to have a Green Mountain or Gatlinburg-type incident to happen here in Tulsa or anywhere else in northern Oklahoma.
TUWC Annual Membership Meeting & Board Member Elections
Wednesday December 14, 2016
Westside YMCA Gymnasium
5400 S. Olympia Ave. Tulsa, OK 74107
Please join us for the annual TUWC membership meeting and board member elections on Wed., Dec. 14th. We are now accepting nominations for three (3) TUWC board member seats and nominations can be submitted via email to email@example.com; nominations must include nominees name, position nominated for and nominees contact information.
The five TUWC board members are elected for two year terms; however, the seats have alternating term dates so that the entire board does not turn over at one time. (There are no term limit restrictions.) The general membership votes on the Board of Directors at the annual end of year meeting.
Trails & Volunteer Director
o Term ends Dec. 2016, current seat held by Tyler Hanes
Education & Preservation Director
o Term ends Dec. 2016, current seat held by Marci Hawkins
Government Affairs Director
o Term ends Dec. 2017, however current director Colin Tawney will be moving out of state.
Thank you for all you do and have a happy holiday season!
We felt the need to mark the passing of a friend today. To echo the words of former Mayor Terry Young
“In 1977, at the urging of Tulsa Tribune editor John Drummond, I initiated the effort to acquire Turkey Mountain to preserve and designate as an urban wilderness park. The effort would not have been successful if it had not been for Chris Delaporte, former state parks director. Chris was serving as President Carter’s head of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and approved a federal grant to match our local county money.”
Over the decades Chris has kept a watchful eye on Turkey Mountain from a distance. Each time a threat of development would emerge he would be in contact with friends here in Tulsa helping us to brain storm on the best ways to meet this challenge. Chris has been a long time friend to parks and wild spaces and his voice will be sorely missed.
Chris was the head of Baltimore’s Parks & Recreation department and was a noted and respected advocate for public space and outdoor recreation. He died recently of cancer.
Mooser Creek at the north boundary of Turkey Mountain has been able to remain in reasonably good condition despite encroaching urbanization. How do we know? Mooser Creek is monitored by devoted Blue Thumb volunteers. Several of Turkey Mountain’s trails twist and turn and progress north to tie into areas along the southern bank of Mooser Creek.
Tulsa’s RiverParks Authority is pleased to announce Monarchs on the Mountain, a new festival celebrating the vital role Eastern Oklahoma plays in the Monarch Butterfly migration will be held September 24th, on Turkey Mountain. The festival will take place from 10:00 am, until 2:00 pm in the pavilion area of the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area near the main trailhead, 6850 S. Elwood Ave.
The day will be filled with fun and educational activities highlighting the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly, the Great Monarch Migration and the habitat of Turkey Mountain which supports a myriad of wildlife. Information will be available and plants may be purchased to help establish your own Monarch Waystation. Visitors can even make a seed ball to plant this fall. Monarch tagging will be demonstrated and butterflies will be released to join the southward migration to the Oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico. This free festival will appeal to all ages and food trucks will be on site. Come spend the day with us celebrating our unique place in the life of the Monarch!
This event is hosted by: RiverParks Authority in partnership with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, the Tulsa Audubon Society and The M.E.T. and supporters; Sustainable Tulsa, Blue Thumb, The Tulsa Zoo, City of Tulsa, Monarch Initiative of Tulsa, Westside Y and the USFWS.
Please help us spread the word by distributing the promotional flyer and sharing our event on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/events/1049153295167427/
On the eve of National Trails Day, more good news came to Turkey Mountain.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Interior named Turkey Mountain’s Red, Yellow and Blue trails as part of the country’s National Recreational Trail System. Turkey Mountain was one of just six places to receive that designation.
“By designating these new National Trails, we recognize the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreational opportunities that can be enjoyed by everyone,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Our world-class network of national trails provides easily accessible places to enjoy exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while also boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities in local communities across the country.”
According to a statement from the Interior Department, National Recreation Trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the Nation. The newly designated trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers and a letter of congratulations from Secretary Jewell.
Achieving this designation was a combined effort from the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition’s grant writing team and the Tulsa River Parks Authority.
Aside from the recognition, the designation has other benefits for Turkey Mountain, including promotion, technical assistance, networking and access to funding. This will add to ongoing efforts by River Parks Authority and the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition to aid Turkey Mountain through education programs, trail maintenance work and clean-up days.
The news is the latest victory for Turkey Mountain. Last year, plans for an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain’s west side were abandoned thanks to widespread community opposition and an organized education effort on behalf of preserving green space. In April, voters approved a measure that purchased the land in question, with the purpose of folding it into River Parks’ inventory. And over the last few years, usage of the trails has grown as more people have learned about Turkey Mountain and what it has to offer. Turkey Mountain is already considered one of the country’s premier mountain biking trail systems, and is home to a number of trail running events every year. It’s also a popular site for hikers, geocachers and equestrians.
As for the trails that received the Interior Department’s designation, they offer a range of experiences for users. The Red Trail is a scenic 0.8-mile loop through wooded terrain and is considered one of the best trails for beginner hikers and runners to try. The Blue Trail, a 1.6-mile loop, climbs to near the top of Turkey Mountain, giving users a good dose of woodlands with a taste of elevation gain and a trip around a pond. The Yellow Trail, at 4.4 miles, climbs to the top of Turkey Mountain and traverses its ridge, while on its eastern flank offers some of the best views of the Arkansas River in all of Tulsa.