|Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Spring wildflowers in the refuge
|Location||Comanche County, Oklahoma, United States|
|Area||59,020 acres (238.8 km2)|
|Governing body||United States Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Website||Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge|
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, located in southwestern Oklahoma near Lawton, has protected unique wildlife habitats since 1901 and is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service system. 59,020 acres (238.8 km2), the refuge hosts a great diversity of species: 806 plant species, 240 species of birds, 36 fish, and 64 reptiles and amphibians are present. The refuge's location in the geologically unique Wichita Mountains and its areas of undisturbed mixed grass prairie make it an important conservation area. The Wichitas are approximately 500 million years old.Measuring about
Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the State of Oklahoma. Located in southwestern Oklahoma, about 87 mi (140 km) southwest of Oklahoma City, it is the principal city of the Lawton, Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the 2010 census, Lawton's population was 96,867, making it the fifth-largest city in the state.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency of the US Federal Government within the US Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. The mission of the agency is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."
The Wichita Forest Reserve was established by the General Land Office in Oklahoma on July 4, 1901 with 57,120 acres (231.2 km2). After the transfer of federal forests to the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, it became a National Forest on March 4, 1907 as Wichita National Forest. On November 27, 1936 the forest was abolished and transferred to the Bureau of Biological Survey, a precursor to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It was re-designated the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR).
The General Land Office (GLO) was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for public domain lands in the United States. It was created in 1812 to take over functions previously conducted by the United States Department of the Treasury. Starting with the passage of the Land Ordinance of 1785, which created the Public Land Survey System, the Treasury Department had already overseen the survey of the "Northwest Territory", including what is now the state of Ohio.
National Forest is a classification of protected and managed federal lands in the United States. National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned collectively by the American people through the federal government, and managed by the United States Forest Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The WMWR is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are 13 small lakes within the reserve.
According to the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 240 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 64 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 36 species of fish have been documented.
Several species of large native mammals make their home at the refuge: plains bison, also known as the American bison, elk, white-tailed deer graze the prairies along with Texas longhorn cattle preserved for their cultural and historic importance. Bison, longhorns, and elk were introduced after the establishment of the refuge. Merriam's elk, the original subspecies of elk in this area, is extinct, so the elk in the refuge are Rocky Mountain elk. The ancestors of the herd were imported from Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1911.The elk herd now numbers about 800 and white tailed deer about 450. These big game species are no longer considered "endangered." Many smaller mammal species also live in the refuge, including the nine-banded armadillo and the black-tailed prairie dog. Other species that have been reintroduced include: the river otter, burrowing owls and the prairie dog. Although these species were not listed as "endangered," USFWS policy is to assure that species that once were native to these mountains would always be found there. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the refuge failed in its attempt to reintroduce the American pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and the prairie chicken.
The Plains bison is one of two subspecies/ecotypes of the American bison, the other being the wood bison. A natural population of Plains bison survives in Yellowstone National Park and multiple smaller reintroduced herds of bison in many places in Canada and the United States.
The elk or wapiti is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose to which the name "elk" applies in British English and in reference to populations in Eurasia.
The white-tailed deer, also known as the whitetail or Virginia deer, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia. It has also been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles, and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was important in saving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported 15 bison, six bulls and nine cows, from the Bronx Zoo to the refuge. On arrival, the Comanche leader Quanah Parker and a host of other Indians and whites turned out to welcome the bison. At that time, bison had been extinct on the southern Great Plains for 30 years. The bison herd now numbers about 650 on the refuge. In fall, bison in excess of the carrying capacity of the refuge are rounded up and sold.
The Bronx Zoo is a zoo located within Bronx Park in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. It is one of the largest zoos in the United States by area, comprising 265 acres (107 ha) of park lands and naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River. On average, the zoo has 2.15 million visitors each year as of 2009.
The Comanche are a Native American nation from the Great Plains whose historic territory consisted of most of present-day northwestern Texas and adjacent areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northern Chihuahua. The Comanche people are federally recognized as the Comanche Nation, headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Quanah Parker was a war leader of the Quahadi ("Antelope") band of the Comanche Nation. He was born into the Nokoni ("Wanderers") band, the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, an Anglo-American, who had been kidnapped as a child and assimilated into the tribe. Following the apprehension of several Kiowa chiefs in 1871, Quanah emerged as a dominant figure in the Red River War, clashing repeatedly with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie. With European-Americans deliberately hunting American bison, the Comanches' primary sustenance, into extinction, Quanah eventually surrendered and peaceably led the Quahadi to the reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The refuge is home to many species of birds, and it is one of the remaining homes of the recently delisted black-capped vireo.
The refuge is ecologically diverse, with prairie, ravine, and mountain plant communities. The many exposed granite boulders make exceptional habitat for a particularly photogenic, chartreuse green lichen known as "Pleopsidium flavum." 400 miles (640 km) from the nearest natural population in West Texas.Portions of the refuge contain scrubby forest of mixed oak varieties. A disjunct population of bigtooth maple is found here,
There is no admission charge. Public use areas on the refuge total 22,400 acres. The remaining 37,000 acres is closed to the public and for the exclusive use of wildlife although guided tours are scheduled.A visitor center and bookstore, open seven days a week, except on some holidays, displays art and has exhibits illustrating the four major habitats found on the refuge: Rocklands, Aquatic, Mixed-Grass Prairie, and Cross Timbers.
The refuge is a popular destination for recreational activities. Rock climbing is overwhelmingly popular, but visitors also enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, bird and wildlife watching, and photography. The refuge has an extensive trail system, including about 15 miles of official trails and unofficial trails. Many of these trails lead to climbing routes. The area became popular for rock climbing beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, and has become something of a regional mecca. Though climbing has brought many visitors to the refuge, some controversy exists over the use of fixed anchors, bolts and other permanently placed objects on the rock face. The refuge has joined with The Access Fund and the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition to promote responsible use of the Wichitas' resources.Rock climbing routes are found on Mt. Scott, the refuge's second highest summit, as well as areas such as the Narrows and the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.
Fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, and channel catfish is popular in the thirteen artificial lakes on the refuge.Elk and deer hunting, to cull excessive numbers, is permitted in a managed hunt every fall. Hunters are chosen by lottery and a fee is charged. A narrow winding road leads to the summit of Mount Scott, elevation 2,464 feet (751m), with a view that encompasses the whole refuge. Although the mountains rise only 800 to 1000 feet above the surrounding prairie they are steep and rocky. The highest mountain in the refuge is Mount Pinchot which rises to 2,479 feet (756m). Mount Pinchot was named in honor of Gifford Pinchot who served as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service.
|Climate data for Wichita MTN WL REF, Oklahoma. (Elevation 1,665ft)|
|Record high °F (°C)||87|
|Average high °F (°C)||51.3|
|Average low °F (°C)||25.3|
|Record low °F (°C)||−16|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.19|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||1.4|
|Source: The Western Regional Climate Center|
The Wichita Mountains are located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is the principal relief system in the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen, being the result of a failed continental rift. The mountains are a northwest-southeast trending series of rocky promontories, many capped by 500 million-year old granite. These were exposed and rounded by weathering during the Pennsylvanian & Permian Periods. The eastern end of the mountains offers 1,000 feet (305 m) of topographic relief in a region otherwise dominated by gently rolling grasslands.
Lake Jed Johnson, named for Jed Johnson (1888–1963), is third largest of thirteen small reservoirs in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, located in southwestern Oklahoma. Lawton, Oklahoma, southeast of the lake and the fourth largest city in the state, is the nearest major population center. Smaller communities of Cache, Medicine Park and Meers lie north of the lake.
The National Bison Range (NBR) is a National Wildlife Refuge located in western Montana established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison. The NBR is one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the United States. The size of the bison herd at the NBR is relatively small, numbering between 350 and 500 individuals. The initial herd of American bison was provided by organizations such as the American Bison Society, and today the refuge serves as the central point for bison research in the United States.
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Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge is a 4,027-acre (1,630 ha) National Wildlife Refuge and unit of the National Bison Range Complex, located in Lake County, Montana.
Lake Ellsworth is a lake in Caddo and Comanche counties in the state of Oklahoma in the United States. It was built by the City of Lawton, Oklahoma in 1962, primarily to serve as a water supply source for Lawton and the surrounding area. The nearest community is Elgin, Oklahoma.
The Charon's Garden Wilderness Area is part of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma and is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. It is located to the west of Medicine Park, Oklahoma and north of Lawton, Oklahoma. The wilderness area, dominated by rugged granite mountains, oak forests, and mixed grass prairies, covers 5,723 acres (23.16 km2) in the western portion of the Refuge. It is not unusual to run into deer, buffalo, elk, longhorn, and prairie dogs. Day use and limited backcountry camping is allowed with a permit from the Refuge. The area is popular with rock climbers, with formations such as Echo Dome and Crab Eyes being popular destinations.
The Strawberry Range, also known as the Strawberry Mountains, is a mountain range in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is east of John Day, within Malheur National Forest. The highest peak is Strawberry Mountain.
The Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is located in the U.S. state of North Dakota and extends from the Canada–United States border to near the town of Kenmare, North Dakota along Des Lacs Lake. The refuge was established in 1935 and includes 19,500 acres (78.9 km2). The refuge is considered to be one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the U.S., with tens of thousands of birds using the refuge for migration and breeding. The refuge is also home to elk, moose, bison and pronghorn.
Mount Scott is a prominent mountain just to the northwest of Lawton, Oklahoma rising to a height of 2,464 feet (751 m). It is located in the Wichita Mountains near Fort Sill Military Reservation and lies in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (WMWR). The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the maintenance of the area. Visitors can reach the summit by car or bicycle via a three-mile paved road. Hiking is allowed, although there are no formal trails and the paved road is open to pedestrians and bicycles from 6am to 9:30 am only. Mount Scott is also popular for its numerous rock climbing areas. The peak was named in honor of General Winfield Scott.
Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge of the Oregon Coast. It is one of six National Wildlife Refuges in the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Located on Cape Meares, the refuge was established in 1938 to protect a remnant of coastal old-growth forest and the surrounding habitat used by breeding seabirds. The area provides a home for a threatened bird species, the marbled murrelets. Peregrine falcons, once at the brink of extinction, have nested here since 1987. The refuge, with the exception of the Oregon Coast Trail, was designated a Research Natural Area in 1987.
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Mount Pinchot is the highest peak in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge of Southwest Oklahoma at 2,476 feet above sea level. It is located toward the western edge of the WMWR. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the maintenance of the area. Mount Pinchot is located within the Wildlife Refuge's Special Use Area and is closed to the public. Special wildlife viewing tours are offered by the Refuge which take participants very near the base of the mountain.
Lake Lawtonka is a lake in Comanche County in the state of Oklahoma in the United States.
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Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic mixture of rugged cliffs, canyons, lakes, and sagebrush grasslands. Formed by fire, ice, floods, and volcanic tempest, carved by periods of extreme violence of natural forces, the refuge lies in the middle of the Drumheller Channeled Scablands of central Washington. The area reveals a rich geologic history highlighted by periods of dramatic activity, each playing a major role in shaping the land. The northern half of the refuge, south of Potholes Reservoir, is a rugged jumble of cliffs, canyons, lakes, and remnants of lava flows. This part of the Scablands, known as the Drumheller Channels, is the most spectacularly eroded area of its size in the world and was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1986.
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Elmer Thomas Lake is a lake in Comanche County in the state of Oklahoma in the United States. It is located on the boundary between the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge and Fort Sill military base. The lake is named for an Oklahoma lawyer and politician, Elmer Thomas (1876-1965), who lived in Lawton and represented Oklahoma's 6th Congressional District in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1922 until 1926, then was elected as U.S. Senator, where he served until 1950.
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