Oklahoma City landowners recognized for forest stewardship
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Published: 24-Nov-2010

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 24-Nov-2010

An Oklahoma City couple have received recent recognition for excellent stewardship and care for their land. The story behind these honors begins in April 2007, when Mark and Carol Aldridge purchased a fifty-three acre tract of forestland within Oklahoma County.

When the Aldridges bought the land, little management had occurred on the property for many years, and a large amount of trash was spread around. The forest resource was in a state of decline and the acreage had been overrun by privet, an invasive shrub.  The property originally was scheduled to be excavated and turned into approximately 70 or 80 plots for a new subdivision but Mark and Carol had bigger and better plans. 

Many people would have looked at this area and thought that it was a lost cause but the Aldridges could see the beauty and potential of the natural resources. In 2008, they signed up for the Oklahoma Forest Stewardship Program through the Oklahoma Forestry Services. Subsequently, they have implemented many conservation practices.

Mark and Carol are described by one friend as a couple who “truly care about land conservation and continue to practice good stewardship.”  Their property contains bottomland hardwood forest type as well as post oak – blackjack oak forest type commonly known as the Cross Timbers.  Approximately forty-five of the fifty-three acres are forested and the Deep Fork River flows along the north side of the property.  At first, most of the property was impassable and many of the larger oaks and hardwoods were declining. 

The first thing Mark and Carol did was slowly make their way across the property removing trash and thinning the forest. They encountered some hardships throughout the past years while dealing with power line and sewage pipe work, but continued to make certain contractors respected the natural resources and saved as many trees and vegetation within the work areas as possible. 

The Aldridges have implemented several conservation practices that demonstrated good stewardship of the land, such as tree plantings to enhance beauty and recreation, encourage wildlife, protect water quality and guard against soil erosion.  They planted several hundred trees, including a variety of oaks, maples, pines and other hardwoods.

Because their land falls within Oklahoma City boundaries, it is unique and provides habitat for numerous wildlife species that have limited space within the city.  It is not uncommon to observe deer, turtles, bobcat, fox, raccoon and a variety of birds on the property. 

On Friday (November 19), Mark and Carol Aldridge were recognized for their outstanding forest stewardship by Oklahoma Forestry Services. In the words of a press release the acclaim came in gratitude to the couple for

“setting a great example for other landowners and the public.” Recognition took the form of a certificate of honor, a “stewardship sign” on the property, and a visit with several members of the Forestry Services staff.

There is widespread misunderstanding about the extent of, and importance of, forests in Oklahoma. The state’s forestry resource assessment completed earlier this year as part of a national mandate, demonstrated anew diversity of forest types in the Sooner State. Among information contained in the lengthy report was documentation of the 90 percent of state forests owned by private landowners.

In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK this summer, state Forester John Burwell said the report may finally shatter mythical remnants of Oklahoma as still a Dust Bowl. As he observed, “Oklahoma has almost 10 million acres of forestland covering nearly 23% of the state.”

Among urban planners and developers, more emphasis is being placed on development or maintenance of urban forests (dubbed “community forests” in some reports) within Oklahoma’s larger cities, both for reasons of aesthetics and due to environmental benefits derived from the presence of trees.

More information about the Oklahoma Forest Stewardship Program is available from www.forestry.ok.gov or by telephoning 405-522-6158.

Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.


 

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