Entrance sign at the J.T. Nickel Preserve.
J.T. Nickel Preserve The entrance at the J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. © TNC

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Bathtub Rocks at J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve in Tahlequah is Permanently Closed to the Public

Law enforcement is on-site. Visitors will be asked to leave. Violators will be cited.

The Bathtub Rocks area at the J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve in Tahlequah is now permanently closed to the public. Law enforcement is on-site at Bathtub Rocks to inform visitors of the site closure and will issue citations.

"As a friendly neighbor and active member of the Tahlequah community, The Nature Conservancy has allowed public access to Bathtub Rocks since we aquired the land in 2000," says Michael Fuhr, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Oklahoma. "Due to increased misuse of this area including illegal drug activity, vandalism, tresspassing on neighboring properties and littering, we can no longer allow the public access at Bathtub Rocks. These illegal activities have created an un-safe environment for visitors and are interfering with our ability to fulfill our objective to conserve and protect the sensitive wildlife and habitat in the Ozarks."

Illegal activities have created an un-safe environment for visitors and are interfering with our ability to fulfill our objective to conserve and protect the sensitive wildlife and habitat in the Ozarks.

State Director

The J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildife Preserve is 17,000 acres that are privately owned by The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization that has conserved more than 105,000 acres throughout Oklahoma. The Nature Conservancy is not a governmental agency, nor is the preserve a public park. As a private landowner, The Nature Conservancy reserves the right to clsoe or limit access to preserves when public activities on the property interfere with its conservation mission to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.

"We will continue to allow public access to our three hiking trails on the J.T. Nickel Preserve and also encourage the public to take advantage of the public access area along the Illinois River for recreational water activities," says Fuhr. "However, if anyone is caught tresspasing beyond the county road that runs through the preserve or the hiking trails, they will be cited by law enforcement."

"The goal of this preserve is to protect wildlife and sensitive habitat that is unique to the Ozarks," says Jeremy Tubbs, preserve director. "We welcome visitors who are interested in learning more about our conservation work and the Ozark region which is important to Oklahoma's wildlife."

At the J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve hiking trails, visitors can enjoy watching native wildlife like elk, deer and migratory bird species and notice the diverse array of native plants while trekking through the Ozark forest and wetlands. Additionally, visitors can take in the scenic landscape by driving through the preserve on the county road. The hiking trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week to foot traffic only. Hunting, fishing, camping and off-road vehicles are not allowed on the preserve.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.