Logan Layden

Logan Layden is a native of McAlester, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and spent three years as a state capitol reporter and local host of All Things Considered for NPR member station KGOU in Norman.

  • Email: loganlayden@ou.edu

Three Reasons to Care That Oklahoma is No. 1 in Gypsum: Twinkies, Beer, Roads

Gypsum embedded in the landscape at Gloss Mountain State Park in Major County.

Chip Smith / Flickr

Gypsum embedded in the landscape at Gloss Mountain State Park in Major County.

Here’s what seems like a mundane factoid about the Sooner State: Oklahoma leads the nation in gypsum mining.

Mildly interesting, right? Actually, it’s fascinating, as The Oklahoman‘s Mike Coppock explains:

The next time you bite down on a Twinkie, know there is a good chance part of it was mined out of a mesa south of Little Sahara State Park.

The same goes for the beer you may order at Bricktown or the loaf of bread you buy at the grocery store.

Oklahoma not only leads the nation in gypsum mining, but gypsum in Oklahoma is so pure that it is used as a calcium additive for foods we take for granted and in common medications.

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Drought and Conservation Driving Water Contamination in Duncan

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn

Duncan’s water supplies are already in bad shape because of the drought. Lake Waurika — Duncan’s main water source — is only about 32 percent full, and city officials are beginning to look toward groundwater as a lake levels continue to drop.

And if it weren’t enough for water supplies to be stretched to their limits, now the water itself is contaminated. Continue Reading

Uncertainty Looms Over Walnut Creek’s Somber Final Weekend As A State Park

Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Harold and Amy Coulter with their granddaughter at Walnut Creek State Park in August 2014.

Walnut Creek State Park closed indefinitely last weekend, the latest in a series of park closures that started in 2011, and a victim of budget priorities and changing attitudes at the department of tourism. StateImpact traveled to the banks of Keystone Lake to visit with some of Walnut Creek’s last campers as a state park, and the people whose livelihoods are now in danger.

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Small Oklahoma Town Hunts For More Water As Cleveland Lake Silts In

Cleveland, Oklahoma — population 3,200 — relies on a small reservoir southwest of the city for its water, despite being located on the banks of the Arkansas River.

And a water crisis is brewing there. But the problem can’t be blamed oncrumbling pipelines, an obsolete treatment plant, or drought — though more rain is needed. The problem is silt. The Cleveland Reservoir is nearly 80 years old.

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Confusion Fueling Oklahoma Outcry Over EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule

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Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mason Bolay climbs into the cab of a tractor on his family's farm near Perry, Okla.

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine calls it a power grab by an imperial president. U.S. Representative Frank Lucas says it would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for famers and ranchers in Oklahoma.

That kind of hyperbole is expected anytime President Barack Obama’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does, well, anything. But the changes being proposed to the way bodies of water are classified are confusing.

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State Officials: Oklahoma Needs Oil Industry’s Help to Meet Water Goals

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Daniel Foster / Flickr

Insufficient rains and increasing demand put enormous pressure on Oklahoma’s water resources both on the surface and underground. But it’s also hard to overstate the role evaporation plays in the drought.

The oil and gas industry has been part of the problem, storing tens of millions of gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process in large, open pits, leaving it to be ravaged by evaporation until the water is needed.

As The Oklahoman‘s Adam Wilmoth reports, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s J.D. Strong says the industry has to change its ways “to help the state meet its Water for 2060 goal of using no more water in 2060 as was used in 2012.” Continue Reading

Drought-Stricken Cities in Southwest Oklahoma Look for Water Underground

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After four years of drought, municipal water storage in in Altus-Lugert lake has dropped to about 10 percent.

Water supplies in southwest Oklahoma are in danger of drying up as four years of drought drag lake levels to record lows. Some communities are scrambling to supplement their current water sources, while others look for new sources — in Texas.

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“Garber-Wellington Aquifer Being Depleted”

How much water is too much to withdraw from the Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which underlies central Oklahoma? That’s the question going forward, now that a study of the aquifer is finished. But one thing seems clear: the status quo is not sustainable.


A large, Central Oklahoma aquifer will be 50 percent depleted as early as 2049 if usage continues at the current rates, an updated study presented Tuesday to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board shows. The study on the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which lies beneath much of central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Shawnee and other cities, examined the rates of water usage from 1987 through 2009.

Read more at: kgou.org

Duncan Eyes More Severe Water Restrictions Despite Weakening Drought

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J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The water situation for the city of Duncan continues to deteriorate. Despite improving drought conditions in the area, portions of Stephens County — where Duncan is located — are still in the severe or exceptional drought categories.

So, at a meeting Tuesday, the Duncan City Council voted to move from the Stage 3 rationing the city has been under since March 2013 — which limits outdoor watering to the early morning hours twice a week — to Stage 4, but delayed implementation until October.

From The Duncan Banner‘s Steve Olafson:

The delay is designed to give residents plenty of time to get used to the idea of stricter water rationing when the city moves to the Stage 4 level of water conservation.

But the council voted to make Stage 4 rationing less harsh than it otherwise would be.

Under the city’s revamped conservation law, residents will be able to water lawns and do other outdoor chores such as wash cars or hose down driveways one day each week during Stage 4 rationing.

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