in Oklahoma.
Pontotoc Ridge Preserve in Oklahoma. © Mike Fuhr/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect



Pontotoc Ridge Preserve features rolling hills, limestone outcrops, springs and streams.


Pontotoc Ridge Preserve is premier Arbuckle Plains property located on top of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, providing critical recharge for the aquifer. This 2,900-acre landscape rests in south-central Oklahoma and holds bottomland forests, oak savannas (essential for migratory birds like painted buntings), mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies, springs and cool running streams. This untilled landscape has proven to be a regional hot spot of butterfly diversity, boasting over 90 species documented at the preserve to date. Whether it's cactus, bluestem or mountain boomers, Pontotoc Ridge Preserve is an excellent example of Oklahoma's ruggedly beautiful lands. The original property that formed the preserve was a gift from the Buddy Smith family.

Biodiversity Threats in the area include the spread of eastern redcedars. Much of the surrounding area is succumbing to this invasive species. Completing the acquisition of several critical parcels of land inside the preserve boundary will help secure the natural integrity of this immensely diverse landscape. One way to measure the success of efforts to restore biodiversity is to track species. Learn about the species found at Oklahoma's preserves.

What the Conservancy is doing now currently centers around prescribed burning. Fire was a naturally occurring event in this ecosystem, yet landowners and communities have shied away from conducting prescribed burns due to the lack of training and equipment and burdensome prescribed burning laws in our state. In the spring of 2003, the Conservancy conducted the first-ever prescribed burn workshop at the preserve for area landowners with help from fire ecology experts from Oklahoma State University. Bringing people and equipment together to put this powerful land management tool back to use will play a key role in managing this fire-dependent landscape.

Learn more about our efforts to protect the waters of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.

Access is limited to personnel and is open for public visitation during events hosted by The Nature Conservancy such as our field trips.