Turkey Mountain update: The damage that’s already done

There have been a lot of encouraging signs regarding the fight to keep Turkey Mountain’s wild nature intact. The formation of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition was one such sign. The positive reaction to the upcoming cleanup day is another. And the petition against building an outlet mall on the wilderness area’s west side has more than 6,300 signatures now.

People are becoming more aware, and they are standing up for conservation at the local level here in Tulsa.

Unfortunately, not all the news is good. Developers who have proposed the mall are doing “due diligence” work at the site, taking core samples and such. Who knew that such preliminary actions would be so destructive. Below is a sampling of the damage done this week:

For whatever reason, this massive old oak had to be razed. Steve looks disgusted. I know I was.

For whatever reason, this massive old oak had to be razed. Steve looks disgusted. I know I was.

Bye-bye, tree.

More trees that got in the way of heavy machinery.

More trees that got in the way of heavy machinery.

More of the same. Trees that got in the way of “progress.” Thanks, Simon Properties!

One of my favorite views, but now all chewed up.

One of my favorite views, but now all chewed up.

Love the view, but the foreground has definitely been sullied by a tracked earthmover. It cuts deep.

They were guilty of getting in the way.

They were guilty of getting in the way.

A view obstructed by felled trees. These things were living not long ago. Left to rot now.

The tools of destruction.

The tools of destruction.

My friend and fellow blogger, TZ Childress, said it best. These guys are just doing their jobs. But dang. They’re really good at it. Good at breaking stuff.

Two felled trees blocking the Old Boys trail.

Two felled trees blocking the Old Boys trail.

I wonder if these trees were cut to block the trail here.

I took these pics with a couple of running buddies. Steve, who was pictured in the first frame, just got into trail running not that long ago, and in his first race, a half marathon, he won his age group. His girlfriend, Brooke, is a very experienced runner who is also just getting started on the trail running habit. She’s run many marathons and is training for her first 50K, which is coming up pretty quick.

She said that one of her boys, when shown TZ’s pictures of the damage, teared up, wondering why anyone would do this for something as mundane and unnecessary as an outlet mall.

That’s a pretty good question. And it’s one that not only needs to be asked of developers, but also members of Tulsa’s city council. The mall is not a done deal. Nothing has been approved or even discussed in city planning meetings. But that time will come.

Here’s the deal: If this mall gets approved, what is pictured above is just a sampling. Much more acreage will be cut down. Drainage issues look problematic: storm water runoff from a parking lot (which would include toxic things like spilled motor oil, gasoline, other auto fluids and whatever leaks from trash dumpsters) looks like it would flow downhill into a ravine, which eventually drain into Mooser Creek, itself a delicate ecosystem maybe a mile to the north. And who knows what erosion issues we’re talking about.

The loss of woodlands would also put pressure on wildlife habitat, and for trail users, well, some of Turkey Mountain’s best would go away.

There is nothing wrong with building an outlet mall. But building an outlet mall here is such a bad idea. There are better places for one to go. Find one of those. Let’s stop the damage at Turkey Mountain. Contact the mayor and all the members of the city council and let them know how you feel. Sign the online petition. And do it soon.

In the meantime, we have a cleanup day coming up. I invite you to come. What a good time to talk to people how important this is.

Bob Doucette


9 thoughts on “Turkey Mountain update: The damage that’s already done

  1. People should start voting with their dollars and avoid any store in a Simon Mall. Maybe you can dig up a list of Simon properties across the country.
    Doesn’t everyone buy everything on line now anyway?

  2. Pingback: Blog: Proactiveoutside – Turkey Mountain update: The damage that’s already done | Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition

    • From the many people I’ve talked to, there is interest in buying the property. However, the landowner is in the midst of a contract with Simon Properties. So while it’s not a closed sale, it’s in process. There is also a question of how much the landowner would be willing to sell the property for. I think a lot of people interested in buying it might not have the needed money, and the entities that do have the money may have other priorities. The George Kaiser Family Foundation would be a great candidate, but they’ve got their hands full with The Gathering Place. And the foundation is not one that likes to become publicly involved in a controversy like this.

      Stay tuned, however. It’s still a pretty fluid situation, and things could change in the future.

  3. Pingback: Volunteers in droves: Turkey Mountain’s biggest cleanup day | proactiveoutside

  4. This property was donated to the city of Tulsa in the early 1980s as a public park and was a park. What happened? Another Terry Young scam?

    • I imagine it depends which parcel you’re talking about. Everything east of the Powerline Trail is basically River Parks land or City of Tulsa land. Everything west of Powerline is owned by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the YMCA or a couple of other private landowners.

      The controversy is over how a piece of privately owned land (which is what’s pictured here) should be developed in lieu of its proximity to a wilderness area. Many of us believe it would be harmful to all the wild lands in that area, a detriment to neighboring property owners, and damaging to a sensitive woodlands ecosystem, particularly in the drainage down to Mooser Creek. Pretty complicated, unless we can find a way to have that parcel developed in a way (or left alone somehow) that is compatible to neighboring lands.

      Thanks for commenting!

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