A couple of new developments going on at Turkey Mountain, and both are related — to a degree — with the controversial plan to build an outlet mall on the wilderness area’s west side.
Last week, a group of local trail and wilderness advocates got together with Tulsa media outlets to announce the formation of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, a group of individuals and organizations with concerns about preserving and conserving wild space in the Tulsa area.
The idea behind the group is to give people who seek to protect Turkey Mountain a voice, and even more, a seat at the table when the future of that hilly patch of woods is debated. The coalition is getting a lift from the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship and the International Mountain Biking Association, both of which are longtime advocates for preserving trails and the wild areas where they exist.
The formation of the group is a good sign for Turkey Mountain. It means there are large numbers of people who are concerned about development encroachment on the area and the detrimental consequences it can have for wild spaces that were so wisely set aside decades ago. It’s also an organization that allows for an even broader number of people to get involved not only in speaking out on issues like the mall (though the coalition was careful to note that it is not taking an official position on the controversy), but also becoming a part of activities that will care for Turkey Mountain and potentially other wild spaces in the Tulsa area and northeast Oklahoma.
One of those opportunities is happening this weekend. At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, members of the coalition will be leading a cleanup day at Turkey Mountain, and anyone who wants to be there is invited to come. People are asked to bring work gloves and maybe pruners or loppers. Trash bags will be provided. It’s a great way to give back, and also meet trail and wilderness enthusiasts like yourself. So I’d definitely encourage you to go if you can spare a few hours that morning.
People had talked about forming a group like this for awhile, but it was Simon Properties’ proposal to build an outlet mall at Turkey Mountain that stirred everyone up to the point of getting this thing off the ground. That just shows you how good people rise up when confronted by something they see as a threat to what they hold dear.
So check out what the coalition is doing, learn how you can become involved, and definitely dig into the website to see a slew of interesting articles and posts (including a few from me) about issues affecting Turkey Mountain as well as the wilderness area’s well-chronicled history.
Big Money may want to mow the forest down, but the people want to preserve their woods. We’ll prove it on Saturday.