Category Archives: Turkey Mountain

Going on a History Tour of Turkey Mountain

This weekend I went on a History Tour of Turkey Mountain hosted by the RiverParks Authority who oversee Turkey Mountain.

Our official tour guide was Ryan Howell who has given the tour a bunch of times and still makes it fresh for everybody.

Old Oilfield Cable

It took about two and half hours and we covered about that many miles but we saw a bunch of Turkey Mountain and he gave us a ton of information. I thought I knew a lot about the Mountain but turns out I didn’t know squat.

Trees Damaged by Beavers Chewing on them

He covered everything about how Turkey Mountain came to be and what its official name is (hint, It’s not Turkey Mountain). Some history of the outlet mall that got moved elsewhere (to never be built) and the Master Plan and all the trails that are getting built. He talked about the difference between the old trails that all eroded and rocky vs the new professionally designed and constructed trails that are designed to shed water and reduce erosion and increase sustainability.

The most instagrammed wagon wheel in Tulsa.

He had tales of hidden Spanish Gold and Viking Runes and magical caves. (Hint, if Ryan knew where the gold was he wouldn’t be giving tours.) He went over the flora and fauna of the mountain and explained about the beavers, bobcats, wild turkeys, deer and Eagles nests and where, in general they can be found.

Oilfield pump apparatus

He talked about invasive species and prescribed burns with “cold fires.” He told us about a still unreleased movie filmed partly on the mountain and showed us the very rock where the lead actress took a power nap during filming. All this and more. I don’t need much excuse to go hiking on Turkey Mountain but this was one of the more memorable outings for me. He also showed us several reminders of Turkey Mountain’s past as a significant oilfield form the 1920’s to the 1960’s.

Ryan has a lot of passion for Turkey Mountain and for educating the public on the resource. The tour costs a nominal amount and 100% of the proceeds go the Mountain. They have the tour several times a year, follow their facebook page to keep abreast of tours and other information

Leave No Trace Conducts a Hot Spot on Turkey Mountain

It’s been a busy and productive past week. A team from the “Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics” based out of Boulder Colorado has been on Turkey Mountain conducting “Leave No Trace Hot Spot” training. A Hot Spot, is an area that is being loved to death and Turkey Mountain fills the bill. What they are trying to do is to teach people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly to help these areas bounce back.

The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition applied for, and received approval, for the Hot Spot. The River Parks Authority and the Herman and Kate Kaiser YMCA also sponsored the training. The Y provided their beautiful new revamped facility as the site for the training.

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The trainers surveyed the mountain and held workshops geared towards local teachers and property managers on how to educate students and park users to be better stewards of the land. It is all data and science driven. Check out their web site. They have a lot of resources available.

I learned a huge amount about how to use a property softly. No more will I throw an apple core into the woods after eating it. Nor will I cut across switchbacks when I am in a hurry. I learned that plastic bottles never decompose, ever. They just break into smaller and smaller pieces and now the average american eats about 44 pounds of microplastics during their lifetime. I also received a great deal of information about peeing and pooping outdoors.

It was also amazing that the Hot Spot training happened the week that the River Parks Authority announced the start of Phase One of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan.

This link has some great ideas to keep in mind when you want to outdoors.

They have a ton of stuff on their Youtube Channel. They have a whole series on “Don’t Be That Guy” Here is the first one.

A Great Day for Turkey Mountain – Phase One of the Master Plan is Starting Soon!

Friday afternoon the Tulsa Riverparks Authority held a ground breaking on the lower parking lot at the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They announced that phase one of the Master Plan to protect and preserve Turkey Mountain was going to start on November 15. It is incredible to many of us to have this day. A few years ago Simon Properties announced a project to develop an Outlet Mall on a private tract of land on Turkey Mountain. A small group of people said No!! It took a while and several times it looked like all was lost but the people prevailed. How many times have you heard of ordinary people forcing a multibillion dollar conglomerate to stop a project on private land. That core group of people were what became the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition.

After Simon moved on to another site (where the project languishes to this day), the River Parks Authority held a series of public meetings and asked the citizens what they wanted out of Turkey Mountain. There were thousands of comments but they kind of boiled down to, first: Leave Turkey Mountain Alone, and second, Make it Better. The result was the Master Plan providing a framework of the work needed on Turkey Mountain.

Master Plans are fun, a big wish list. But it was not funded. So although we were excited about it we knew that it could be a while before anything happened. Well the RiverParks Authority started reaching out and making public/private partnerships and got a few grants, and a few dollars allocated from the City, the County, and the State and now they have enough money to fund much of the plan and work is starting this month on a new gateway trail from the lower parking lot to the top of Turkey Mountain and beyond.

Photo from River Parks Authority facebook page

So Friday we all gathered at Turkey Mountain and after some blessedly short speeches from the various VIPs, the symbolic dirt was turned. It was great. A couple minutes later, members of the Coalition were invited to grab a shovel and turn some dirt.

Photo from TUWC facebook page

That’s s me at the far left. I was not part of the original group of people but I have been on the Advisory Board for a few years now and have a big sense of ownership of the organization.

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So we celebrated a little bit but this morning we were back at it with a cleanup on Turkey Mountain sponsored by the Coalition and Leave No Trace. About 30 to 40 of us gathered up bags of garbage, cleared out downed trees, removed non-native species, repaired some trail, and rebuilt other trails. If you want to join in the fun hit the link to learn more and maybe even join the Coalition.

In my next post I’ll be discussing Leave No Trace. They have been at the Mountain for a week looking at things and leading workshops for various stakeholders. They are an amazing organization and I can’t to talk about them and what they do a little bit.

A Hike on Turkey Mountain – Meditation in Motion

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I found me a gnarled old tree. I love gnarly.

Saturday morning I didn’t have any obligations. Heather went off to teach her classes and the kid didn’t want to go walking or hiking or much of anything. So I went off to Turkey Mountain all on my lonesome.

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A perfect trail, I love the dappled sun.

I like exploring Turkey Mountain with my family or friends but I am okay with it on my own as well. I get totally lost in the moment feeling the sun or shade on my face, the heat, humidity, what the ground feels like under my feet, other people up there and everything else. It is all just part of the whole. You can’t keep your head in the clouds though. You have to keep an eye on the trail so you don’t trip plus the copperheads are out and they are hard to spot.

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An open air auditorium. The trees make a natural archway.

So I have a rough idea of what I want to do but I feel free to change it up as the mood strikes me.

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Slow and steady down the this steeper than it looks and rocky trail.

Turkey Mountain is just so lush and green this early in the summer. Give it time under some hot sun and the green will lose its freshness and the ponds, creeks, and springs will dry up. It’s all part of the cycle.

Relive ‘Morning Meditation in Motion on Turkey Mountain’

I can walk an hour or two and it seems like five minutes.

Turkey Mountain Patterns and Textures

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Wednesday night and a storm popped up headed for Turkey Mountain. Huh oh, there goes my run I thought but a check with Accuweather showed that it was going to be done quick. So I gather up my stuff and headed to the park.

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As I got there the storm was trailing off. Yahoo is what I said. I wasn’t too worried about mud. Something about the mountain makes it shed off rain really quick.  I noticed a couple of younger people doing some pretty good tricks with their bikes. I don’t know about you but I couldn’t pop a wheelie on regular sized bike in a hundred years. They made it look effortless.

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So off I went into the cool, wet, dripping woods. I loved the textures of everything and the sound of the dripping all around me.

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Everything was glistening.

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And there were colors! The fresh new growth of spring is showing the stress of our high heat plus the bugs and mildew our eating on them. It made for its own kind of beauty. The dirty little secret about Turkey Mountain is that there isn’t much color besides green. You have to hunt for other colors.

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So I started tuning into the different patterns and colors the mountain was showing off.

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You know, you just have to stop and sniff the weeds every now and then.

Turkey Mountain Trails Added to National Trails System

National Trails System Logo

Exciting news to many of us here in Oklahoma. The National Park Service announced the designation of Turkey Mountain’s Red, Blue, and Yellow trails (about 7 miles total) as part of the National Recreation Trails and will be added to the National Trails System. The announcement comes just in time for National Trails Day.

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No, this doesn’t mean that the Feds are coming in to take over the trails, the designation recognizes existing trails built and maintained by others. The National Park Service will provide special trail markers and add it to their web site. The main thing is that the designation provides additional credibility to those who are trying to get grants for Turkey Mountain. 

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Kudos to the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition who led the effort behind the scenes to get the designation. UWC is quite an organization. They started last year in response to a tone deaf effort by the City of Tulsa and Simon Properties to build a cheesy outlet mall on Turkey Mountain. Thanks to the efforts of TUWC and other organizations, the community rose up in opposition and Simon is proceeding on building the mall at a more appropriate location. I was amazed, do you know how many times Oklahoman’s are successful in opposing bad development ideas? Very few times is the answer.

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So this is great news but the preservation of Turkey Mountain is still a process more than event. Steps are continuing to be made by both private and public entities. The citizens of Tulsa passed a bond issue to provide funds for the purchase of the proposed Simon Malls site. After the close on that purchase, the River Parks Authority, who administer the land, installed new cable and post fencing to keep vehicles off that property. The vehicles were tearing the trails up and some of our fellow citizens were dumping their trash.

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So we have recognition from the Feds which helps but Turkey Mountain still needs lots of support from the community.

Turkey Mountain Map

Read the Tulsa World Article on the designation

Download a map and check the trails for yourself.

Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, get involved.

 

Turkey Mountain Cleanup Day and the George Kaiser Family Foundation Purchases the Simon Malls Tract

Over 120 people of all ages showed up  for the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition‘s Winter Cleanup Day on a beautiful Saturday morning. We picked up trash, lopped off limbs, seeded, and shaped trails for several hours this morning.

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I worked with John and Faith on the lower portion of the blue trail. I had some loppers (that is what I call them) with me and I was exhausted at the end of a mere two hours. I left them to go fetch Logan and they were still going strong. I like pruning branches in the woods. When I prune at home I have to bundle everything up just right for the city to pick them up. Up on the mountain I just toss the branches I cut deeper into the woods.

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And a week ago we got some great news on the future of Turkey Mountain. The George Kaiser Family Foundation has purchased the 60 acres on the west side of the mountain that was slated to be developed by Simon Properties into an outlet mall. The foundation owns another 200 acres of land on the mountain and the new tract will be used to expand the footprint of the public wilderness area.  It is a win/win. Simon Malls decided to build the mall on a more appropriate site and the private landowners of the 60 acres got paid for the value of the land that we users of the mountain enjoyed at their expense.

So it has been a great week for those of us that love Turkey Mountain.

Keep Turkey Wild!

 

Not Quite Singing in the Rain – Getting Soaked on Turkey Mountain

During the downpour yesterday #DownTownTulsa

Wednesday nights are my night to go running after work. I have a little routine. I leave work and go to a liquor store and pick up some craft beer and then I head out either to the Arkansas River trails or Turkey Mountain. Last Wednesday it started a downpour just as I was leaving downtown but my good ole Accuweather app on the phone said it was not going to rain for at least two hours so I’m good right?

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So started out on the Yellow Trail taking pics with my Ipod Touch using the Hipstamatic App. I just love blurry photos. My intention was to try and do six miles or so.

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This is my favorite spot on the Yellow Trail. I just tell people to follow the arrow. Nobody listens to me but I say it anyway. I repeat myself a lot that way.

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This is my favorite new landmark on the Yellow Trail. It reminds me of something new I’m reading a little about lately Trail Marker Trees.  Trees that Native Americans shaped as trail markers or other uses. Check the link. I’d love to see a few live. I’m a little skeptical about them personally.

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I stopped a smelled a few roses. Metaphorically.

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And check out some color.

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Just as I got to the north end of the Yellow Trail it started raining, hard. I put away my Ipod and got out my waterproof Nikon. People tell me about how much they love raining in the rain. I don’t like it too much but if you are out in it and wearing tech clothes then it is not so bad. I decided to cut my run short and run the upper Yellow trail back.

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The mud sticks to your shoes and things get a lot slipperier but I eventually got back to my car.

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The only thing worse than running in the rain would be riding a bike. The thunder and lightening was getting pretty bad also. That can ruin your whole day.

If I had it to do over again, I’d do it over again. And no, I didn’t go home and drink the beer I bought earlier. You see we are much more godly people in Oklahoma than where you live because our laws don’t allow us to purchase cold full strength beer. So I drank some of the beer I bought last week!! That is called pre-planning.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday

Simon Malls Withdraws Proposal to Put an Outlet Mall on Turkey Mountain

Wagon Wheel Lake

Wagon Wheel Lake on Turkey Mountain

Great news for those of us who love Turkey Mountain. The City of Tulsa announced that Simon Property Group has formally withdrawn their proposal to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain and will pursue building the shopping center in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. I love that Simon came to their senses. Building a shopping center on the mountain was a very stupid idea for a bunch of reasons. Kudos to a lot of people and organizations and especially the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition for getting this stopped. It is not often in Oklahoma that the people step up and say no to big business on something dumb like this. Their efforts got a lot more people into the park which made things kind of crowded sometime but I think people realized what a treasure we whad.

Tulsa World Article Tulsa Frontier Article

Yogi’s Den Previous Posts on the Outlet Mall

KTUL.com – Tulsa, Oklahoma – News, Weather

Simon Property Group Pulls Plug on Turkey Mountain Outlet Mall

Have you heard the news!! Simon Property Group is abandoning their Turkey Mountain outlet mall project. They are going to put it in a much more appropriate site in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. Read about it here. A site that people repeatedly brought up during the discussions on the project. The site should work better for Simon.

Turkey Mountain Topaz Glow Dizzy Late Afternoon Sunlight

Of course the city of Jenks will get the sales tax revenue, or at least the promise of it given the huge subsidies that Simon was looking for in terms of paying for infrastructure and other types of corporate welfare they were looking for to help with the economics of the their project.

Sunset Turkey Mountain

I couldn’t be happier for all involved. Now comes the real work. Money needs to be raised to buy the remaining land on Turkey Mountain at market value in order to preserve it. Tulsa is growing and it is just a matter of time before somebody else tries to develop it. It is not fair to the landowners to expect them to provide people like me free land to enjoy.

In the meantime, I’m happy that Simon came to their senses. I don’t think they expected the buzzsaw of opposition that they riled up with their proposal. I’m also proud of my fellow Tulsans. Despite Oklahoma’s populist roots, large corporations do pretty much what they want to do in Oklahoma these days. It is nice to see a little push back in a case like this where something bad was fixing to happen (as we say in Oklahoma.)