Places We Protect

Pontotoc Ridge Preserve


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

A ruggedly beautiful land featuring rolling hills, limestone outcrops, springs and cool running streams.



Take a virtual field trip of Oklahoma Preserves, including Pontotoc Ridge.

This 2,900-acre landscape, a gift from the Buddy Smith family, rests in south-central Oklahoma and holds bottomland oakforests, savannas (essential for migratory birds such as painted buntings), mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies, springs and cool running streams.

Pontotoc Ridge Preserve is a premier Arbuckle Plains property located on top of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, providing critical recharge for the water source.  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 collared lizards, Pontotoc Ridge Preserve is an excellent example of Oklahoma's ruggedly beautiful lands.


This unique diversity however, doesn’t come without its threats which include: the spread of eastern red cedar and other early successional woody encroachment as well as, invasion by exotic species such as sericea lespedeza, chinese privet and feral hogs. Additionally, the lack of natural disturbances such as fire or grazing are threats to the ecosystem.

Further, researchers and conservation staff have monitored an increase in siltation and turbidity in the waterways. There is no known source for this increase, but we do know that increased siltation, sand and sediment, in the water is a cause for algae blooms which alters the environment of the river and streams where small fish and larval fish can’t survive. This change in the environment can also affect beetles, pollinators, and migratory birds. Monitoring this preserve is critical to understanding the effects of human activity on these delicate ecosystems.

Conservation In Action

Our work currently centers around re-establishing the nature disturbance regimes that this landscape evolved with, such as prescribed fire. We are working with surrounding landowners to implement prescribed fire practices in a safe and efficient manner. Beyond that, thinning will be implemented to remove over abundant shade-tolerant trees. We continue to monitor and map these processes which help us evaluate our management effectiveness and adapt our methods.

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


Limited Access

Access is limited to personnel and is open for public visitation during TNC events.


South-Central Oklahoma

Map with marker: Guided hikes and field trips are offered each spring and fall.


2,900 acres

Explore our work in this region

Take a virtual field trip to Oklahoma's 5 flagship preserves.
OK360 Take a virtual field trip to Oklahoma's 5 flagship preserves. © TNC

Immerse Yourself in Nature

Take a virtual field trip and experience breathtaking 360° panoramas of Oklahoma’s native and diverse landscapes. Take a trek through the limestone glades and wildflowers at The Nature Conservancy's Pontotoc Ridge Preserve and learn about Oklahoma’s plants, animals, and ecology via engaging multi-media.

Take a Virtual Field Trip

Learn more about our work in Oklahoma and explore the other places we protect.