City of Tulsa: Half of Turkey Mountain Potentially Open for Business Development

In an unfortunate development, the City of Tulsa announced Friday, August 22, via press release and map that the entire west half of Turkey Mountain is no longer considered Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness, and can therefore now potentially be considered open for business development:

The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, which includes many public trails that Tulsans enjoy, is not the tract of land identified for any type of retail development.” 

Turkey Mountain, as considered by the City of TulsaThe press release and map goes on to define Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness as only properties held by the City of Tulsa and River Parks. This narrow definition of the Turkey Mountain area runs counter to the public perception of the trail system, which is considered to run from the west bank of the Arkansas River to HWY 75. For users familiar with Turkey Mountain, this means that almost all properties west of the Powerline trail (and some portions of the Powerline Trail) are no longer considered a part of Turkey Mountain. The estimated total trail length will decrease from 45 miles down to 15 miles.

According to the City of Tulsa, the following trails and landmarks are no longer considered Turkey Mountain:

  • Any properties west of Powerline trail, excluding the corner of S. Elwood/61st
  • 90% of the Pink trail
  • 1/2 mile of the Yellow trail (north Spider turnaround)
  • Pepsi Lake
  • Snake trail
  • Fairy Dust trail
  • Pipeline Trail
  • The Westside YMCA
  • 30 miles of smaller trails/iconic features, including: the Washing Machine, Rock Garden, Jelly Legs (among others)

 

What Does This Mean for Turkey Mountain?

Eagle NestThis release constitutes one of the first conclusive statements regarding Turkey Mountain property lines from the City of Tulsa. Many users had publicly voiced the hope that the City of Tulsa/River Parks was in the process of acquiring some west-side plots for preservation purposes. At this point, that does not seem to be the case.

Without a doubt, this is an upsetting development. With the 53 acre Simon Outlet Mall building/parking lot complex in development, the City of Tulsa seems willing to entertain the prospect of further development down the 61st Street corridor. Individuals familiar with the Turkey Mountain area anticipate the following effects:

  • Rapid and continued development along the S. Elwood/61st Street corridor
  • S. Elwood/61st Street converted to 4 lanes
  • Loss of “Lipbuster” trail, upper parking lot, and portions of Snake/Pink trail due to street expansion
  • Development of supporting retail and commercial properties along 61st Street (additional strip malls, pharmacies, gas stations, etc.)
  • Loss of wildlife habitat, including eagle nesting areas
  • Potential loss of more land, as the City of Tulsa/River Parks may consider development within their property boundaries.

 

What Should Turkey Mountain Users & Enthusiasts Do?

It is the opinion of many that the City of Tulsa and River Parks need to focus on working together to conceptualize a Master Plan for Turkey Mountain. The failure to acquire any additional lands on the west side in the 30+ year existence of the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness would speak to this conjecture. Most would agree that the citizens of Tulsa would benefit from the following:

  • Missed Tourism Dollars - Turkey Never Mentioned on City of Tulsa websiteA master plan for the Turkey Mountain area, focused on preserving as much of the area as possible.
  • Initializing a new view of Turkey Mountain, not as land prime for development, but as an important quality of life and health improvement metric for the entire Tulsa area
  • Pursuing local donors and corporations to take a public role in promoting Turkey Mountain as a unique-to-Tulsa large-scale green space attraction, similar to The Gathering Place model
  • Promotion of eco-tourism to Turkey Mountain – currently, Turkey Mountain is mentioned precisely ZERO times on the entire City of Tulsa website
  • Working with landholders on the west side of Turkey Mountain to conglomerate preservation efforts under one City agency. River Parks would appear to be in the best position to take on that role.

 

What next? If you feel that Turkey Mountain is a place that needs preserved, PLEASE share this information. To make your voice heard, it would be highly beneficial to contact some/all of the following:
Email/Call as many city councilors as necessary
Email/Call the Mayor of Tulsa
Email/Call Simon Property Group
Sign the Ongoing “Keep Turkey Green” Petition 

Additionally, you may share the link to this post on your preferred social media outlets. If you haven’t visited Turkey Mountain and would like to know what the fuss is about, download a trail map here.

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