Tag Archives: Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition

Turkey Mountain Joins the Old-Growth Forest Network

Early in May this year I was invited to a small ceremony where Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness in Tulsa was going to join the Old-Growth Forest Network. Hmmm, never heard of them but sounds interesting. Besides, there was a hike included in the event. Sign me up!!

Jeff Edwards of RiverParks.

The Old-Growth Forest Network is an organization founded by biologist, turned author, turned activist, Joan Maloof who became alarmed at the loss of old-growth forests in the eastern USA. Very little old-growth forests remain in the east, less than 1% of the orginal forests and maybe about 5% in the west.

Sarah Adloo of Old-Growth Forest Network

Old-growth forests are those that have been undisturbed and old trees are allowed to grow old and die. I found out that old dead snags can provide habitat for up to 300 different species. The Old-Growth Forest Network is trying to find and designate at least one publicly owned tract of land in counties, that can contain such forests. They estimate that is about 2370 counties. Turkey Mountain is the 199th such forest to be designated and only the second in Oklahoma.

So the dignitaries made their speeches and a plaque was handed out.

I borrowed it for a closeup. And then we went on a hike. It was about a mile and we got to the location of the oldest tree on Turkey Mountain. I forget what kind of tree it is but the dendrologists say it got started in 1774. They only tested thirty some trees based on their experience of where the oldest trees would be. They said, rocky land on steep slope where logging is difficult is the best bet. So it is likely that there are older trees on Turkey Mountain.

True confessions, my original photo wasn’t very good so I went back recently and got this video. The tree is kind of old and bent and I couldn’t capture it in a still so I got this video. It’s not the prettiest or the biggest tree in the world but it is kind of special.

So it was a nice outing. I got to learn something and go on a hike. I’m always up for that.

This link is for the report on the event by one of Tulsa’s television station.

I bought one of Joan Maloof’s books. I got the kindle version because it is half the price of the paperback. I’ll let you know what I found out.

Check out Old-Growth Forest Network’s web site. Lots of information on Old-growth forests. Here is the organization’s page for Turkey Mountain.

Do you want to live in the Tulsa area and want to get involved in things like this. Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition.

I am linking with My Corner of the World. Check it out.

Getting the Word Out

I’m on the Advisory Board of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, (“TUWC”). I am also retired so although I am pretty busy I have a lot of flexibility with my time so lately I have been working some informational type functions for the TUWC.

Back in mid April we had a work day on Turkey Mountain. The manly men and strong women do the heavy duty lifting, digging, shoveling and such on the trails. I worked a table with another guy doing user surveys for the River Parks Authority tallying information and asking people about their outing.

On April 19, again a day event hard for working people to man, I worked a table with others at Tulsa’s Guthrie Green during the Enviro Expo. There were all sorts of environmental organizations present. It was kind of cool.

Double cool because my former employer was a sponsor of the event and they had a bunch of people I knew there. I stole this photo off their instagram feed so I hope they don’t get too mad with me. It was fun catching up.

And then that Friday I worked a table with fellow board member Marci at an Earth Day event for school children at Tulsa’s Chandler Park. Marci knows all sorts of things about the natural world including butterflies, plants, critters, all sorts of stuff. She is also a long time educator and she knows how to talk with school kids and their teachers and parents. She was amazing to watch in action. She has a way of leading people to come up with answers on their own. It was a fun event. The kids were all excited about the topic. I love it when kids are enthusiastic about learning.

I have worked with TUWC the past several years and love it. If you want to get involved or volunteer check out their website at TulsaUrbanWildernessCoalition.org. We have a work day coming up in June and in May we raise money for the group by volunteering at the Tulsa IronMan competition. Check the TUWC web site above for the details.

And this week ended my school year work as a Reading Partners volunteer tutor at a local school. So I said goodbye to a student I have been working with for the school year. The kid was a hard worker and very enthusiastic all year and showed tremendous improvement in their reading ability this year.

This is my fourth year of volunteering for the group and the most satisfying. The previous two years were virtual and that was tough. It is very difficult to form bonds with students over a computer. I felt bad for the kids because they spent a big part of their day online. If you want to learn more check out their website.

So what do you do for fun in your spare time?

Turkey Mountain Trail Work Day

group turkey mountain workday
Photo from TUWC facebook page

Early this past Sunday morning close to fifty volunteers showed up in the freezing cold to do a variety of projects on the trails of Turkey Mountain. They did everything from reclaiming old trails to building new trails to repairing erosion damage on trails. We all got divided into teams and off we went. The project was put on jointly by the RiverParks Authority and the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition.


I was on a trail reclamation team. The park has lots of up and down trails which is just lousy for trying to control erosion damage. Plus the up and down trails intersect a new high speed mountainbike trail running back and forth across the cliff faces. Mixing glorified social trails with high speed black rated mountainbike trails is not good. So this project addressed a safety issue as well.


Reclaming the trails is basically putting debris such as fallen logs and brush on the trail and raking leaves onto it. The effect is startling when you are done. The trail vanishes.


Some trails you have to do several times as some people resist losing their favorite trail. What happens though is that without people and bicycles causing further damage, the old trail heal themselves.

Here is a reclaimed trail. The old yellow trail, it was replaced by a brand new trail off to the right designed and built to be sustainable and will shed water of the side of the trail instead of the water running down the trail.

We were done by 1 PM or so. Everybody was tired but satisfied by all the projects that got done that day. We had refreshments and people went on their way. Check out the TUWC’s facebook page for a bunch more photos from the days work.

Turkey Mountain cleanup - Bob
from a post by the Tulsa Riverparks Authority on facebook

Some serendiptiy earlier in the day. In a facebook post publicizing the event, The River Parks authority posted a photo from a work day from years ago. My brother Bob is in the photo off the right. I remember when he lived with us a short while he helped out in a cleanup one day. I thought that was kind of cool.

Linking with My Corner of the World

Earth Day 2022 in Tulsa

This past Saturday I drove to Tulsa’s Arts District, just north of downtown, to help work an Earth Day booth for the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. It had been a long time since I had been to such an event. They used to have them on the main mall during the work week when I was still working.

Just as I got there a fashion show featuring recycled materials was underway. That was interesting.

It was pretty windy. Kind of a full skirt alert thing going on.

They had some musical performances. Some guys drumming and then later on some sort of hippie, country, poppy group who were not bad at all.

Chinese Wisteria

Wandering around the other booths I came up on the table for the Carrie Dickerson Foundation. Carrie Dickerson was a determined lady who led a coalition of people that forced the Public Service Company of Oklahoma to abandon the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant project in 1982 after a nine year battle. Construction on the plant had already started and when it was cancelled, it was the only nuclear power plant to be cancelled as a result of legal and citizen action. As much as I am proud to be a member of an organization that forced an outlet mall to abandon their plans for a mall on Turkey Mountain, I’m in awe of the people who forced Black Fox to be shut down. People don’t remember it much any longer but Oklahoma has populists roots that are still there beneath the surface. RIP Carrie Barefoot Dickerson.

I’ll climb off my soap box long enough to show you a monarch butterfly who I saw flitting around the earth day events.

And then later on a bunch of young women in their prom dresses with their beaus, parents, and photographers came for the photo ops available at Guthrie Green. I thought it was kind of cool. I have great hopes for our young people. They are going to inherit the world. Personally, I think they are up to the task.

Skywatch Friday – Things are Looking Up at Chandler Park

Early one morning last weekend I and along with several other members of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition met with some Tulsa County Park Officials at Chandler Park in west Tulsa.

They showed us an area that they have been reconstructing for some time. They are putting in a lot features and turning into much more than a place to have picnics. They have an event space, complete with substantial electric power capability and a pad that can handle food trucks, and area that can be used for big tents complete with tie-downs. It’s going to be great when they open it up to the public in a few months.

Then they took us on a hike on all three of their trails. Some of them still have some graffiti.

Other areas have been cleaned up with power washers. This area was used in the filming of the upcoming movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the movie people cleaned it up.

The “Lost City Trail” at Chandler is unique with all the rock walls, cliffs, and narrow passages. It is a hotspot of activity for the local climbing community.

It has several different overhangs.

They have a pond that they are finishing up. It’s pretty amazing all they are doing.

They are looking to partner with community organizations for events and other attractions. The energy and enthusiasm of the staff was cool.

Great things are fixing happen at the park. Do you want to get involved? Do you have some ideas? Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and Tulsa County Parks Department.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday. Come check it out.

Our World – Scavenger Hunt

Not to toot my own horn, but I guess I will. I helped to plan and implement a scavenger hunt on Turkey Mountain this past weekend. It was originally supposed to be New Year’s but it got postponed because of weather.

The RiverParks Authority gave me thirty items to give away. Small stuff like stickers (people go nuts over stickers these days) and key chains. I conceived the idea of using repurposed cd jewelboxes and designed new covers and “liner notes” for containers for the giveaway items.

So late last Friday I loaded up my jewel boxes and headed to Turkey Mountain. My friend Laurie from the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition helped me place them on different parts of the mountain. It turned out to be a good workout with about 5 miles of hiking involved.

We didn’t really hide them because we wanted people to find them. The RiverParks Authority also had people out and about placing bigger items like water bottles and tshirts on the mountain. They also had people adding new stuff during the day.

We hid one in the famous washing machine at a crossroads on Turkey Mountain. (It’s actually a drier but I get dirty looks when I bring up that fact. Ever notice that anybody who says “actually” gets dirty looks.?

I was busy but I always take time for photos.

Especially when the sun is setting.

Here’s a screen shot of the facebook invite for the event.

Channel Six here in Tulsa showed up and did a story on the event.

A good time was had by all. I was proud to be a part of it.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join the party!!

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.


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.


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.

New Trails Coming to Turkey Mountain

Big News out today in Tulsa for those of us who love the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. The RiverParks Authority has announced that it is beginning the first phase of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan. Construction on thirteen miles of trail will begin this Fall. The trails are being designed by Progressive Trail Design who designs and build trails all over the country.


This is huge news for Tulsa. Six years ago a company announced plans to build an outlet mall on the mountain. It seemed like an unstoppable force but a small group of citizens (the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition) organized opposition to the outlet mall and guess what, the mall decided to go somewhere else in town. And further, that somewhere else, the company scraped off a bunch of dirt and started construction and then quit (they say only temporarily) leaving kind of a big muddy mess. (Thank goodness they didn’t do that on Turkey Mountain is what I say.)


Two years ago the RiverParks Authority got funding to develop a master plan. As part of the process input was provided by thousands of Tulsans on what they wanted Turkey Mountain to look like. What they came up with was wonderful. Check it out here. A great plan but an unfunded plan.

Wagon Wheel Lake

So now they have enough funding for the design and construction of thirteen miles of trail. Professionally designed trail rather than overgrown deer trails.

Lots of races are run on Turkey Mountain every year.

The existing trails on Turkey, although we love them were not designed. They just kind of happened. We have trails that go straight up hillsides and those trails are eroded rocky boulder fields now. The trails are not sustainable and get very muddy after rains where the water puddles up.

Turkey Mountain cleanup June 2015
Several work days per year on Turkey Mountain

The new trails will be more accessible to a wider population segment. I’m pretty comfortable on Turkey Mountain now but it took me years to get that way. I know which trails are almost impossible to traverse. As new trails are built, many of the older trails are going to blocked off and retired to let the land rest. All this is exciting news.


Want to learn more? Listen to the Official Turkey Mountain podcast. Ryan Howell of the RiverParks Authority talks about the problems with the existing trails and the promise of the new. He also talked about restoring the bulk of Turkey Mountain to an Oak Savanna via the use of prescribed burns and removal of non-native species. He also discusses the history of Turkey Mountain including tales of buried gold and Viking explorers.

A new trail being built

Consider joining the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. It’s a nominal cost and you will find out about work days, which are a lot of fun. TUWC’s scope is all the urban wilderness spaces in Tulsa, not just Turkey Mountain. They have become a resource for other organizations in the Tulsa area. (Full disclosure, I am am member, and all opinions on this blog are my own.) Check out and like their facebook page.

Sunset on the mountain

If you are on instagram follow the Turkey Mountain account. (more full disclosure, I post photos to that account once or twice a week.)

Follow the Turkey Mountain Facebook Account and their Public Trail User Forum also on facebook.

Monarch Way Station on Turkey Mountain built last year as part of Monarchs on the Mountain event last year. The event will be be September 17 to 19 this year. Check out their web page for the details.


You can only legally camp one night a year on Turkey Mountain during an event called Base Camp. It is a fun camping and music festival. This year on October 2 and 3.

It is exciting to see the results of a small group of people who stood up to big corporations and City Hall and won. (Just to be clear, I was not one of those people, but I was cheering them on.)

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World – Turkey Mountain Work Day

Getting directions and instructions

Early Saturday morning a couple dozen volunteers gathered at Turkey Mountain for a joint project between the RiverParks Authority, who administers the Mountain, the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, and the Herman and Kate Kaiser YMCA located at the far northwest reaches of Turkey Mountain.

Off we went to the work site. We had to pack all the tools about a mile to the new trail. Kudos to the guys who pushed the wheel barrows.

The YMCA has shut down to totally renovate their facility and are opening up this summer. It’s going to be great and one of the things they wanted was more defined and easier to hike trails to connect their property with the rest of Turkey Mountain. The existing trails are badly eroded and unmarked and many of their day campers who go off hiking get lost.

We broke up into three groups or so. Somebody had taken a gas powered blower and blew the leaves off the proposed trail route, earlier the route had been flagged. The people who made the route did a good job. There was very little confusion about what we were supposed to be doing.

So the Riverparks staff and a few of the officers from the Wilderness Coalition mapped out a new trail that should make everybody happy. Y daycampers, and the many hikers and mountain bikers that use the trail. It features some switchbacks which should reduce erosion problems.

No trees were sacrificed for the new trail! Some saplings and brush got removed.

Everybody grabbed shovels, picks, saws, loppers and got to work and we got the new trail pretty much done in a few hours. People started using the new trail while we were in the middle of building it.

A mystery. We found this whole with a dryer duct snaking out and a ladder going down. Apparently pretty deep. An old meth lab? Maybe, moonshiners used to be active on the mountain back in the day.

It’ll take some finishing touches but they started putting up my trail markers right away.

Blocking off the old trail using the materials at hand.

And we spent some time closing off the old badly eroded trail with fallen branches. It needs to heal.

We celebrated our work with a few adult beverages in the parking lot afterward. Everybody was very proud of the work done. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

So this is me working on the trail. I stole the photo from the Urban Wilderness Coalition’s facebook page. Hopefully I won’t go to jail.

And up pops a map on a facebook page showing the old and closed routes. I am stealing this map also. I am leading quite the life of crime lately. Anyway you can see the new route is longer, not near as steep, and with switchbacks. Hopefully erosion will be more easily controlled on the new route.

New Trail Route on Turkey Mountain

I am linking with Our World Tuesday