Hikers walk alongside a Texas horned lizard at the Four Canyon Preserve.
A Future for Nature and People Hikers walk alongside a Texas horned lizard at the Four Canyon Preserve. © Ryan West Photography

Stories in Oklahoma

A Future for Nature and People

2019 Year in Review

Mike Fuhr, OK State Director
Mike Fuhr, OK State Director Mike Fuhr, OK State Director © Mike Fuhr/TNC

From the Director

I hope your 2019 was a wonderful one! I’m excited to share our annual report with you, our amazing supporters. This document shares the stories of our collective successes over the past year – none of them would happen without your continued, generous support.

This year’s report theme is “a future for nature and people.” While the concept of conservation for the benefit of both nature and people is not new to 2019, the importance of the connections between the two is as important as ever.

With the hyper-fast pace of life, it is easy to miss the nature around us and its importance to us in our everyday lives. The connections to nature are many—the freshwater we drink, the food produced by native pollinators, the clean air around us—and yet they often go unnoticed and as a result underappreciated.

A part of our job at The Nature Conservancy is to make sure that the links between all of us and nature is touted far and wide. And that takes every single one of us; we can all make a difference by spreading the word about the importance of nature and therefore the conservation of the natural world. Without this knowledge, our society will become even farther removed from our roots in nature and will not comprehend the need for our wild places. 

Thankfully, there are people like you that showcase these connections through the support of our work here in Oklahoma and beyond. Doing so sends a message in itself. That nature is worthy of our attention and respect for intrinsic as well as pragmatic reasons. Natural places are important.

A big thank you to all of you who help support our work every year and help spread the word about conservation. None of the work described in this report would have happened without you. I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events or at one of our amazing places; the places that provide for each and every one of us. Thank you for all you do to support conservation!

Grazing Lands

We are protecting grasslands and advancing grazing practices that meet the needs of ranchers and wildlife in Oklahoma.

In addtion to maintaining native grazers like bison at the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, we teamed up with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide educational and outreach opportunities to landowners to increase use of conservation practices that benefit monarch butterflies. Our team also assisted in the development of a Best Management Practices guide for monarch habitat on Oklahoma rangelands via our participation in the Okies for Monarchs program.

 

Working With Fire

Low-intensity prescribed fires protect lives, homes and wildlife habitat. 

Fire is an important management strategy for many of our preserves. In fiscal year 2019, 25 prescribed burns were conducted on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve covering 15,203 acres. In addition, the Tallgrass fire team assisted neighboring ranchers in burning 34,937 acres and in the control of 92 wildfires through the years.

Revenue from TNC’s 2018 bison license plate sales were used to conduct critical stewardship and management activities at the J.T. Nickel Preserve where 2,345 acres were burned in 2019.

In an effort to help rural communities deal with wildfires, a wildfire suppression training class was hosted in Concho, OK. This workshop was designed to help landowners, local fire departments and community leaders consider prescribed fire as a tool to help reduce wildfire danger.

Cucumber Creek Preserve
Cucumber Creek Cucumber Creek Preserve © By George Bogaski

Conserving Lands & Waters

As demands on land and water continue to increase, we are expanding our efforts to protect nature by working with governments, corporations, local partners and you. 

In 1989, Cucumber Creek Preserve in southeastern Oklahoma was established to mitigate for loss of habitat neotropical migratory birds. Now, in 2019, an additional 358 acres was added to mitigate for habitat loss of the northern long-eared bats. Now totaling 3,629 acres, these recently acquired lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available to address potential impacts caused by construction and maintenance of Diamond Pipeline LLC’s Diamond Pipeline Project in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), TNC is completing a three-year macroinvertebrate study on Cucumber Creek. The study will determine if the creek still has pristine water quality based on the macroinvertebrate diversity and water quality that historically has been present in this stream.

Transforming the City Landscape

With smart planning, science-based solutions and strong partnerships, we can make the green cities of tomorrow resilient, healthy & equitable. 

TNC recently completed an ecosystem services analysis for Hitachi Vantara in Norman on 66-acres of property. Hitachi learned that the property hosts a diversity of plant species and provides habitat for many animals. They plan to implement employee educational outreach about properly maintaining vehicles to prevent leaks to improve the water quality coming from their parking lot.

From proclamations to innovative landscaping ordinances to environmental education programs, mayors and other local and tribal government chief executives in Oklahoma are taking action to help save the monarch butterfly. TNC and the OKC Zoo joined Oklahoma City’s Mayor David Holt in April as he signed a commitment for Oklahoma City to help save the monarchs and proclaimed April “Monarch Month”.

Inspiring People for Nature

We work to engage Oklahomans from all backgrounds with the science, solutions and wonder of nature.

From raising nature-loving kids to trustee participation during Conservation Day at the State Capitol, learning about Texas horned lizards through craft beer to field trips on the preserve, it's been a full year of adventure and fun attracting more than 200 people to TNC preserves in Oklahoma. In total, volunteers donated 482 hours statewide to help further our mission for nature. Additionally, 181 docents gave more than 6,200 hours of their time and energy helping out at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

 

2019 Year in Review