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 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.
Something to keep in mind about the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, for those not familiar with us, is who we really are.
In light of what caused us to go public — the proposal to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain’s west side — it might be easy to look at us as a protest group. And while we are concerned about the proposed mall, we are more than a protest group. So let me explain.
What we are is an advocacy group. We care about Turkey Mountain, as well as other wild places in the Tulsa area, and we have decided to do things that go toward celebrating and preserving those places. Places where families go to spend time together, children visit during field trips, and home to a summer camp.
That’s why we did a clean-up day — the most successful one to date — in mid-January, and will do more in the future. It’s why we are working with other stakeholders in Turkey Mountain, to make sure there is a voice for them on the area’s future. It’s why we have a virtual library of links to articles that tell of Turkey Mountain’s history as well as what is going on there now.
We plan to be here for the long haul. At some point, the mall issue will pass, but that does not mean we are going to fade away when that happens. Instead, the coalition intends to be around for a long time to keep educating the public on the importance of urban wilderness, to facilitate efforts in its preservation, and to give like-minded people a voice in how the community cares for this precious asset.
So there it is. You’ll hear our voice on the subject of the proposed mall. But you’ll see us in action on so many other things related to the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness — now and in the future.
I have said before that I am not opposed to Tulsa having an outlet mall. There are a lot of other plots of land in the general area that would work well for the mall and not take away from our urban wilderness. the SE corner of 61st and HWY 75, the land south of the Creek turnpike west of the river, The SW corner of 71st and Elwood, and several other areas west of HWY 75.
So the 800,000 square foot outlet mall dumped on Turkey Mountain goes in. Now little two lane 61st street will not handle the thousands of bargain shoppers who cut through on Elwood to avoid the traffic at Tulsa Hills. Picture this, folks: 61st street and Elwood are widened to at least 4 lanes. Maybe 6. Think of all the trails we lose when that happens. The trails that meander along 61st Street will be to an added 2 lanes–plus they will probably be so nice to throw in some 8′ concrete sidewalks. The traffic even now on 61st Street and Elwood Avenue has tripled since Tulsa Hills was built. Residents from west Tulsa who need to commute over the 71st Street river bridge skip the deluge of un-synchronized stoplights by McDonald’s/QuikTrip/Lowe’s/and 1000 other stores–and speed over on 61st Street and rocket down Elwood only to wait at the 71/Elwood stoplight at the newly improved intersection that was widened from two lanes to TWO LANES. OOPS?!?!? It is impossible to get through this intersection in the morning drive in less than 10 minutes due to this lack of foresight. Now let’s quadruple the traffic flow with shoppers. Believe me–all of the 1.6 miles from 71/Elwood to the outlet mall will be widened in a big way. How do you widen Elwood going up the hill? Goodbye Lipbuster.