Stories in Oklahoma

Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer

Along with an astonishing array of plants and wildlife, approximately 150,000 people in south-central Oklahoma depend on a healthy, sustainable Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer as their resource for water.

Download and complete a form located on on the Oklahoma Tax Commission's (OTC) web site to order your license plate today. Please allow 8-12 weeks for production and delivery. You will receive your plate via mail from the OTC. Note: the initial registration fee is $38 and annual renewal fee is $36.50. A portion of the initial registration fee and annual renewal fee ($20) will benefit The Nature Conservancy's conservation efforts in Oklahoma.

The Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer plays a vital role in the well-being of human communities who depend on it for water, food, jobs and recreation. It provides drinking water to the local communities including Ada, Sulphur, Davis, Tishomingo and Durant; water for agriculture and other industries; and exceptional recreational opportunities for hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The Nature Conservancy works to benefit the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer in several ways:

·         SCIENCE & COLLABORATION: Pursuing a non-confrontational, science-based, pragmatic solutions to balance water use for people and nature.

·         RIPARIAN RESTORATION: Restoring one mile of riparian buffer along the Blue River, sustained by the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, at Oka’ Yanahli Preserve.

·         AQUIFER RECHARGE: Protecting Pontotoc Ridge Preserve, 2,900 acres of premier crosstimbers landscape located on top of the aquifer, to provide critical recharge for the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

·         HEADWATERS PROTECTION: Conserving 500 acres along the headwaters of the Blue River at Oka’Yanahli Preserve to protect a critical water resource for the city of Durant and everyone else downstream.


In 1994, Buddy Smith gifted 2,174 acres to The Nature Conservancy to protect Oklahoma’s wild and natural state. This property became known as Pontotoc Ridge Preserve and is a prime example of healthy, natural crosstimbers, including bottomland hardwood forest, limestone outcrops and prairie. Lush with high quality springs, seeps and streams draining from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, the preserve provides critical recharge to the aquifer.

Later, in December 2011, the Conservancy, along with help from partners, acquired 490 acres along the upper Blue River in southern Oklahoma, now known as the Oka’ Yanahli Preserve. The Blue River is a major stream flowing from the aquifer and is the only remaining, entirely free-flowing river in Oklahoma. It accounts for 54% of the discharge from eastern portion of the aquifer and is a critical source of water for Durant, ranked the fastest growing rural city in Oklahoma. 

Conservation Model

The Pontotoc Ridge and Oka’ Yanahli preserves serve as demonstration sites to inspire conservation work on other public and private lands located in the Arbuckle-Plains and along the Blue River. This work is bringing partners together and in ways that will sustain the natural environment while providing clean water for people. The results provide a template for restoration, sustainable use, education and protection.

Knowing we are helping to protect the future for others is a good feeling to have and probably the single best way to reinforce the true nature of teamwork. The Nature Conservancy reflects our values for the preservation of the en

Vice President of Operations for Veolia Water

Our work to protect the waters of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer is a prime example of how a variety of organizations can come together to synchronize their actions in a way that will ensure the future of water for nature and people

The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma State Director

We are grateful to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy. Through this, we all hope to make a positive impact on scientific research, water conservation and learning opportunities. This endeavor expands our capacity in undergrad

President, East Central University

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