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How a Wind Farm is Helping Save the Family Farm in Western Oklahoma

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company.

But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

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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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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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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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On the Mountain Fork River, Environmental Protection Equals Economic Development

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Eddie Brister, owner of the Beaver's Bend Fly Shop on the southern section of the Mountain Fork River.

This is the final part of StateImpact Oklahoma’s series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part three is available here.

Eddie Brister knows how the stream warms and cools, and where the current rushes and eddies. He knows every pebble in the river, and he can spot a trout without even dipping his waders in the water.

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Boom and Gloom: Tourism and Industry Collide Along Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers

Debbie Doss picks up garbage and loose clothing left behind by careless tourists along Lee Creek.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Debbie Doss picks up garbage and loose clothing left behind by careless tourists along Lee Creek.

This is part three of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part two is available here.

A narrow rock wall holds back all but a couple of tiny waterfalls that sneak through cracks and flow into Lee Creek. This natural dam is so unique a nearby town in northwest Arkansas was named for it.

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Other States Have Outsized Influence in Oklahoma’s Scenic River Protection Policy

Bob Deitrick of Owasso stands along the banks of the Upper Illinois River at the Round Hollow public access point north of Tahlequah, Okla. The headwaters of this river are in Arkansas.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Bob Deitrick of Owasso stands along the banks of the Upper Illinois River at the Round Hollow public access point north of Tahlequah, Okla. The headwaters of this river are in Arkansas.

This is part two of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. Part one is available here.

Bob Deitrick checks the snaps on his bright orange life vest, crouches and checks all the gear one last time. The Owasso father’s son and his two friends are behind him, impatiently paddling in circles.

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Flaming Waterways and Death Threats: The History of Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers

A group of Tulsa bartenders prepare for a day on the Illinois River at Diamondhead Resort near Tahlequah, Okla.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group of Tulsa bartenders prepare for a day on the Illinois River at Diamondhead Resort near Tahlequah, Okla.

This is part one of StateImpact Oklahoma’s four-part series on the history of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers and the environmental threats they face. 

Even though it’s a Monday morning, rowdy Tulsans pile into a bus at Diamondhead Resort and rumble toward the nearest access point into the Illinois River.

“If you have a good group of people and enough alcohol you can make anything fun,” one floater tells StateImpact.

They head off to enjoy a booze-soaked afternoon on the water, oblivious to the decades of effort it took to keep this water clear and the river flowing.

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Oklahoma State Parks Director Says State Parks ‘Not on the List’ of Core Services

Shaun Pelkey and his daughter Ireland Pelkey enjoy the afternoon at one of Walnut Creek State Park's beaches on Keystone Lake.

Logan Layden / StateImpactOklahoma

Shaun Pelkey and his daughter Ireland Pelkey enjoy the afternoon at one of Walnut Creek State Park's beaches on Keystone Lake.

State tourism officials are considering closing or transferring four more state parks. The agency, like many, has had its budget cut over the past four years, but the decision to defund state parks is about more than money.

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In Lawsuit Over Oil and Gas Tax Law, Two Ways to ‘Test’ a Revenue Bill in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent, who has successfully challenge laws in the past, comes out of a hearing room at the State Supreme Court, where a referee heard his lawsuit over House Bill 2562.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent, who has successfully challenged laws in the past, leaves a courtroom at the State Supreme Court, where a referee heard his lawsuit over House Bill 2562.

The State Supreme Court on July 29 heard a lawsuit and constitutional challenge to House Bill 2562, a measure that would change the effective state tax rate levied on oil and gas production.

Both parties agreed that the measure was written to reduce taxes, but is HB 2562 a “revenue bill?” That definition is important because this court battle isn’t about policy, it’s about procedure.

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