Saturday, January 31, 2015

Urban Wilderness (from Wikipedia)

Urban Wilderness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Where appreciation for the importance of biodiversity meets the New Urbanism movement, one can find the pursuit of the creation of urban wilderness. Key traits of urban wilderness that differentiate it from lawns and other ecologically questionable forms of plantings are:
1.    Biodiversity - a wide range of species, both of plants and animals
2.    Minimal maintenance required for viability - plants that can survive without frequent watering, can withstand local pollution levels, and do not depend on infusions of fertilizers or other periodic soil amendments (see xeriscaping)
3.    Deep beds - deep soil allowing the creation of mature root growth, protection from drought and destructive temperature changes, and the development of a healthy colony of microorganisms, worms, and other beneficial small lifeforms
4.    Native species - considered use of local varieties rather than exotic species
5.    Unstructured aesthetic - plants allowed to grow as they wish, where they wish, with minimal space devoted to paved walkways, trimmed grass, or other artificial environments
6.    Tolerance of ground-cover and thick undergrowth - healthy ecosystems depend on "messy" micro-environments like decaying logs, thick brush, and muddy ground.
Urban wilderness has been created by programs as varied as the New York City Parks Department's Green Streets program (which converts median strips and other micro-environments into planted areas) and small programs in such places as Davis, California and Portland, Oregon to reintroduce native species.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the creation of vast regions of concrete and asphalt, with minimal space set aside for living things beyond humans and their pets. Jacob Riis and other reformers fought for parks in urban areas, but the resulting parks, while a vast improvement, were formalized, rectilinear arrangements of artificially orderly lawns, bushes, and walkways.
While many societies had traditions of intense urban plantings, such as the famously lush rooftops of pre-conquistador Mexico City, such traditions did not reemerge on a larger scale in the industrialized world until the creation by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted and others of naturalistic urban parks. The rise of the City Beautiful Movement enhanced this trend as American, European, and other cities worked to bring natural settings back into urban areas.
In recent decades activists have sometimes seized the lead from architects, social planners, and horticulturalists as groups like squatters and Reclaim the Streets have engaged in guerrilla plantings, from work done in or on abandoned buildings to more symbolic acts like tearing holes in highway asphalt and then filling the holes with soil and flowers. These actions have been particularly effective in creating new planted zones in economically decimated areas like urban eastern Germany where abandoned buildings are occasionally reverting to forest. However, this trend can carry its own doom as beautified areas can work so well that they become targets for gentrification, with thirty foot (ten meter) trees grown over building foundations being torn down for yet more high density development. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

A short venture into the wonderland known as the Westside YMCA

I met a couple of friends today over at the Westside  YMCA to hike a little and just look around. We walked around Lake Logan, and I tried to get a good picture of some mallards on the pond. 
By the time I got my camera on and pointed, most of them had swam behind a small island. 

I maneuvered closer but must have sounded like a moose crashing through the thicket, because they vacated the premises.

This small finger of the lake is unnoticed to most trail runners and mountain bikers, but is a beautiful place nonetheless.

On the way back to the main trail, I found this birds nest uninhabited but in perfect working order. I gave it a wide enough berth so as to not disturb it. What might seem like a useless sapling is home to another creature. Visiting the urban wilderness is a privilege, and up-heaving it is just plain wrong.

We wandered uphill around the upper pond, and into the woods, up the hill,, meeting a couple of trail runners and a mountain biker enjoying the trails on this cool overcast day. We found some old faded orange ribbons left possibly from a past trail race or mountain bike race, and gathered it up as well as some other litter.

A water bottle, an old pop can, a FULL CAN OF BEER UNOPENED (notice the big smile on Mitch's face), and quite a bit of old ribbon.

 Oh, and a dead fox. I'm not sure how it died. [A good photographer would not have chopped a head off   :-/   ]

I told my friends I was gonna try one more time to shoot the ducks. (Of course I meant photographing them!) They were again on the upper part of Lake Logan, but flew to the other side of the lake when they saw me coming.

You have to zoom in real close to see them. I liked this reflection pic, so I walked again around the lake to get another reflective pic. 

This is the upper pond--almost completely still. All of the above pics are on the Westside YMCA property, which for decades has hosted hundreds of kids each summer in it's day camps, creating the ideal summertime environment for kids and teens. Tulsa needs to remember what a special place this is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Uninformed comments

Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition  delivered a petition to City Hall today with 6500 signatures and comments against the proposed Simon Outlet Mall being built on the 60 acre plot of land at 61st and HWY 75. This land, referred to as part of Turkey Mountain by local mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, horseback riders, and area residents is actually privately owned land, The owner has allowed use of trails across the property which connects the RiverParks property with trails on the YMCA property. Area runners and bikers have held clean up days on this property over the years, and have been good stewards, treating it as if it were their own. 

This story from KJRH Channel 2 says essentially the same as KTUL, KOTV, and Fox 23. 
KJRH also posted this video on their Facebook page along with this question: Are you for or against the proposed west Tulsa development? 

Taking out the long argument from some moron who tried to bring up Turkey Mountain being a gay hangout and the arguments back and forth--there were 83 people AGAINST the mall, and 26 For the mall.

Some of the comments by the pro-mall people: 

"The land is privately owned and Turkey Mountain was bought by the Kaiser foundation to keep it as a wildlife refuge for hikers and animals. People just want to gripe about anything and everything. Tulsa Hills has been a great success and it's relieved some of the congestion at Woodland Hills Mall. Bring on the out let mall can't wait for it to be built up and running and putting people to work."

Blah blah blah. ANYONE who has followed this story knows the land is privately owned. Kaiser did indeed buy a large amount of land between the Riverparks land and the proposed mall site and intends to keep it wild. Putting this mall next door to existing wild area, as well as paving 60 acres of wild area is devastating to this wilderness. And the mention of congestion?? This mall brings with it the worst traffic problems the sity has ever seen. Already, thousands of commuters bypass Tulsa Hills and speed down 61st Street and Elwood. Throw in this outlet mall and the two lane bridge over HWY 75, and this will be a major bottle-neck. This is a very sensitive issue to me, as I live in the neighborhood just west of the Turkey Mountain parking lot, and have to deal with traffic that has tripled since Tulsa Hills was built..

"Totally FOR it. Turkey Mountain is going to be just fine. The Kaiser Foundation purchased the land around the proposed outlet mall to prevent expansion, which means the true Turkey Mountain area will stayed preserved."

 How does paving 60 acres preserve the YMCA property downhill and downstream? And how does the added noise from the mall and 75  not affect the wildlife 100 yards away?

"Oklahoma is full of nature all over and whatever animals that are living there will probably just relocate, as most animals would do when they realize an invasion has begun. Yes we need animals to a certain extent but Tulsa needs more jobs. They're so worried about animals and their habitats but honestly I'm more worried about the people I see on the streets who are willing to work and families struggling to stay afloat. West Tulsa really needs it and I'm not a part of a "coalition" or group but i sure would sign something that's all for building it!"
 Okay--all the deer need to vacate this property and head to the wild area west of Sand Springs. REALLY? The relocation will be most visible as road kill.
 I think it also would COST a lot of people their jobs. AN outlet mall would put the squeeze on many of the businesses in Tulsa Hills. When these stores go out of business because of over-satuation, will you also feel sorry for them?

"Urban wilderness? Urban wildermess if you ask me... mountain bikes have eroded the trails so badly that the trees' roots are exposed. Wilderness areas are limited to foot traffic usually. Calling Turkey Mountain Park a wilderness is laughable."  

 There is so much you need to learn. There are schools who bring their classes here to study wildlife. There are eagles, snails, beetles, and a variety of opther animals worth protecting. Yes, the trails are well travelled in places, and there are bike groups who spend hours several times a year maintaining and  preserving these trails.   

"I am, most certainly, all for keeping Turkey Mountain as it is. That being said, have they changed the location of where the, proposed, outlet mall will be? Because, when I first saw the article, I thought it was where TM is, but it's actually wouldn't touch TM at all."

 Clearly there needs to be some education, informing, enlightening. I am betting that the majority of the people favoring the mall and being smart-assed about it have never set foot on the trails deep in the woods at Turkey Mountain. There was a time when I might have been one of them. Spending hours roaming the hills in this enchanted woodland, I have come to love it. It has become a part of me.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Osage Hills Run

This morning, a few of the Sunday morning Turkey Mt group caravanned to Osage Hills State Park to run some new (new to most of us) trailz. It's 67 miles one way, and to some--driving 114 miles to run 5 miles seems silly, but the trailz here are so amazing it's well worth the drive.

We had a few runners meet us there--peeps who live in Bartlesville or Dewey. Krystal Brown and Don Gillam were two.
We started out in the main campground which had an unlocked bathroom (and hot showers, which we wold not need this day.)

Our first half mile was a styeady climb to the highest point in the park. There's a "observation tower" there, and we gathered around and observed. It sometimes is an amazing view from here.

It's also a good place for a group picture. Our dog runner was JD, who did a good job of herding us around the loop.

I led for most of the way, and had a good run (which means a good pace for me.)

When I steped off the trail to take pictures, I would bring up the rear until the group reached an intersection or a WOW place.

Lookout lake is one such WOW place. A trail actually leads right down to the shore, but we bypassed that turn choosing to stay on the main loop.

I have always found this old bridge fascinating. It was built close to 100 years ago, and will no doubt last another 200 years.

Get a good look at this shelter. This will be race headquarters for a new trail marathon/half marathon/5K to be held on June 21. 
Online registration will be open soon.

Here is the beautiful Sand Creek Falls. There are actually people who visit the park and have not made the trek down to see the falls. They are amazing!

Philip and Coleen cross a natural dam to see a gurgling channel of rapids.

We climbed up and out of the falls area to the top of some bluffs. it was here that the idea for calling the upcoming trail race here "Danger Cliffs Trail Marathon.". I LOVE THE NAME!! Clyde Cole gets free entry to the race for suggesting such as perfect name.

And along the cliffs we did go. There are a couple of different places where you can run right on the edge--and over the edge if you are not careful.

From here, it's a good 60 feet down to to the water.
My biggest fear here is not the height, not of falling, not of hitting my head on rocks below, but of drowning because I would sink right to the bottom of the river. I guess if I hit my head on the way down, I might not even have to deal with drowning.

The race will run by each of these areas, but we will stay a safe distance from the edge, won't we? (Nod your head yes!)

After that, we ran a loop trail that is rockless and pancake flat (which is actually flatter than relatively flat, in case you were wondering.) Philip and Coleen asked for a shortcut back to the car and I sent them the wrong way--so we all ended up with 5.1-5.15 miles depending on whose GPS watch you wanted to believe.

No trail running trip to Bartlesville is complete without a trip to Murphy's Steakhouse. Normally, I would order breakfast food, but Murphy's is famous for their Hot Hamburgers.

What you have here is a generous hamburger patty on Texas toast, and then a pound of hand cut fries and brown gravy poured over the whole mess. It is off the charts!! I have done some calculations, and depending on the gravy, it has 1300-1600 calories. I ran 5 miles with a few inclines, and might have burned 600 calories, so I stand to gain a pound today. Lucky me.

And Lucky Me is right. I made a happy plate and was happy to make that plate happy. I know some people are vegetarians or vegan, and some people just won't eat grease and starch. But they are the ones missing out. If no one had been watching, I would have licked the plate.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

18 holes then 6 miles

Saturday was a darn near perfect day. I played gold with my boys Kenny3 and Chuck. We played at Page Stone Creek--once regarded as one of the nicest course in the state. For winter conditions, it was good, but it seems to have lost some of the glam it had 20 years ago.
 Both boys cleaned my clock. Kenny3 (above) shot a 74, whereas I shot an FM radio station. 

Chuck beat me by 11 strokes, but it was never close. Still, I had fun, hit a few good shots, and did enough to make me want to play again real soon.

After that, Jake and I were gonna head to Turkey Mountain but there were so many people there, which meant he'd have to stay on-leash. So, we went to Chandler Park instead.

 We parked at TCC, and tucked into the woods there. About .2 down the double track, Jake found a bit of single track heading uphill into the woods. This was a very faint trail and leaf covered. Jake has a nose for finds like this.

 About a half mile later, it ran into a wider trail--one made by ATVs. We followed it for quite a while not really caring where we went.

 Jake was like a kid in a candy store, romping and tearing, running twice the mileage I was getting.

 For those who think the Powerline Trail at Turkey Mountain is a workout, you ain't seen nothing. The Powerline Trail at Chandler Park is 3 miles long with climbs four times higher and 10 times longer.
 Looking east and west--and once you climb to the top, it's down a long hill and up another.

 Jake and I got off the Powerline and found a more gradual ascent, which was a bit more rocky.

I had planned on 3-4 miles, and we were looking like 5-6, so I started thinking shortcuts back. I did not have a light other than my phone, and Chandler Park is a place where it's easy to get quite lost. With the map app on my phone, I saw that a double track seemed to run into 41st Street, so we headed there, and the wide sidewalk back to TCC.

 This tower just down the road from TCC was a good confidence marker for our return trip.

Looking north to where we were. I plan on coming back here in a few weeks on Sunday morning with our running group. There are lots of routes to choose from and it seems like endless trailz.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

sad sick heartbreaking

I ran with the Tuesday Night TOTs over the Old Boys Trail to the Westside Y, and in the dark saw what looked like a massacre of trees along the trail. Today I got home from work before dark and took a quick run with my camera.

A drilling outfit has been roving around drilling holes I assume to see how far bed rock is as part of a land survey. There are newly smashed down dirt roads everywhere on the 60+ acre plot.

This once was a thick tallgrass--quite beautiful in it's own way.

This drilling rig drills holes every 100 yards or so all the way to the northern boundary of the property. They have to plow through trees to get where they want to drill,

It seems as though falling trees has become more of a sport for these mindless oafs., I would say upwards of 300 perfect trees have been chainsawed or bulldozed over.

This 20 yard swath is a common sight as you run or bike northward. What was once a nice single track trail is now a 10 yard wide dirt road. A trail no longer--as we knew it anyway. A trail of tears--yes.

Another 100 yards and another huge deforested patch.

This made my heart break. Way down at the bottom of one of these plowed down areas, they had fallen this once tall proud and mighty oak. It was not even in the direct path to their drill mark. WHY???

This tree was huge. I would have guessed 3 feet in diameter. I took off one shoe then both to have a point of reference

Then I found a stick and broke it to length so I could measure the diameter.

Almost 31 inches. With a 30.75 inch diameter and a circumference of 96 1/2 inches, this webpage  calculates  the age to be around 100 years old. This was one of the oldest trees on Turkey Mountain. There was no need to cut it down. If the lovely mall were to be built, they would not build on the side of a hill so near the pipeline trail. This should have been one tree they kept.

Bob Doucette asked about his favorite vista on the Old Boys Trail. Here it is.

And here is the road these idiots made right through the area.

Stepping just 20 feet to the north, here is Bob's vista through the branches of a once healthy but now hacked down tree.

More senseless slaughter.

This is on the trail overlooking HWY 75.  This is almost a 10th of a mile north of where this trail pops out above the highway. I turned back here. I had seen more than I could stand.

It seemed they wanted to cut down the healthy trees first. I just don't understand the logic--oh wait--there IS no logic. This story of this tree gets worse.

Way up in the top of this tree was a squirrel nest. I am sure of this. As a teenager, I used to go with my dad squirrel hunting. I don't hunt anymore.

A closeup of the nest. 

Here is the machine that does the drilling. 

A person sits here and plows through the woods to dig holes. It's a job.

They had to get the help of a land scraping front end loader. This small piece of machinery can knock over small trees scrape land so fast it'll make your head swim.

Hate. Hate is a strong word, but I hate the people behind this. I realize the people driving this machinery and slaughtering trees are just doing their job, but it seems like a hate crime.
Midwest drilling, you and the people who hired you, are raping our forest.

For the record. I am NOT AGAINST an outlet mall in Tulsa. I am not even AGAINST an outlet mall in west Tulsa, although if it made the traffic any worse around my house worse, I would be cranky. But Turkey Mountain is the worst place in Tulsa for a development like this. Put it across HWY 75, put it further down HWY 75. Put it in Jenks (I know I know--Tulsa does not want to lose the sales tax $$$.) 

Take away 100 year old trees, pave a portion of a longtime "wild" area, and we lose far more than 60 acres. Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness is something that sets Tulsa apart from so many metropolitan areas. Hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, bird watchers, geocachers, horseback riders--ALL come from miles away to enjoy this special area. These out-of-towners also eat and shop in our city while they are here. 

Slicing off 60 acres takes far more than 10% of the land we call Turkey Mountain.It brings the noise of the city further into the quietness of the woods. It drives what remaining wildlife that we still have away. Widened roads take away even more of our quiet wilderness. (The road widening is a HUGE CONCERN.)

If you love the wild area that we have, do not sit by quietly while the so-called progress crams a huge eyesore of concrete and storefronts down our throats. Contact your city counselor, write your state representative, post your thoughts on Facebook, and MAKE SOME NOISE!