After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma. The deal has been praised by state leaders as a historic accord that ends the tribes’ lawsuit that blocked Oklahoma City’s plan to pump water out of the region. But the deal still has to be sold to tribe members in that part of the state.
This is the centennial year of the Migratory Bird Treaty. The compact between the United States and Canada assures many birds can travel undisturbed, but the international agreement protects one species that’s a menace to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.
The National Park Service turns 100 this year, and many states are celebrating top-tier environmental landmarks that are a big source of local pride. About half the U.S. states don’t have a national park — including Oklahoma.
That wasn’t always the case, and the story of what happened illustrates a changing view of what national parks are for.
Oklahoma’s primary environmental agency made a private contractor pay just under $1 million earlier in a settlement over improperly treated water in a small city in southern Oklahoma. But the state’s budget shortfall swallowed up the money before the city of Hugo had a chance to use it.
Cities across the state are hoping to cut down their electricity and maintenance bills by updating street and highway lights with new technology. LEDs save energy and money, but doctors say the lights could have unintended health and environmental consequences.
Lake Texoma State Park was once one of Oklahoma’s most popular parks. Then much of it was sold to a private development firm that has yet to fulfill its promise to build multi-million dollar resort. The matter was recently settled in court, but many local residents don’t like the result.
The latest update of the National Register of Historic Places includes the kinds of Oklahoma buildings you’d expect to be on such a list: a school in Atoka built for black students during the New Deal era, a church in Garfield County barely altered since its construction in 1928, a hotel in Guymon that’s been the tallest building in town for nearly 70 years.
But not all of the properties on the list immediately flash their historic value, like a nondescript one-room brick building in Oklahoma City called the Electric Transformer House.
This story was co-produced with the Center for Public Integrity.
Here in the land of wind-whipped, rolling plains, the gray dust, which sparkles in just the right light, seems inescapable. Residents of this town near the Arkansas line say they have spotted it on their grass, trees, ponds, barns, furniture and cars.
The State of Oklahoma and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation are clashing in court over the growth of a tribally controlled rural water district. The state is questioning the district’s legal status, but tribal leaders suspect the confrontation is about politics — not water pipes.
Southeast Oklahoma has many of the state’s largest lakes and rivers and much of the state’s water, but no one from the area serves on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the state’s water regulator. A 2013 law requires the area to have representation. But, so far, that hasn’t happened.