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Oklahoma Natural Areas Registry

Landscape image of Salt Creek Canyon in western Oklahoma

Oklahoma Natural Areas Registry

Our aim is to encourage citizen-based conservation of Oklahoma’s natural diversity through a voluntary land-preservation program that promotes awareness of rare species, natural communities, and important geologic features.

Acknowledging the volunteer spirit of Oklahoma landowners!

From Texas horned lizards, burrowing owls, and gray bats to orchids, red buckeyes, Tallgrass prairies and granite outcrops, Oklahoma landowners are working to protect these and other natural elements of our state. 

Since 1984 the Oklahoma Natural Areas Registry has worked with over 100 landowners to assist them with the protection of over 80,000 acres in our state.  Currently the largest Natural Area is over 9,000 acres and the smallest site is an important 2 acres. Outstanding examples of Oklahoma’s natural diversity can be found on lands owned by private citizens, corporations, agencies, and organizations.   

Spring Field Days!

Field Days are an opportunity for the public to visit Natural Areas that are not open to the public.  At these educational events, visitors can learn about managing land for native biodiversity and see real life habitat restoration projects.  Some field days are also volunteer opportunities to help improve a Natural Area.

Seed Library

The Oklahoma Restoration Seed Library is a permanent collection of native plant seeds representing genetic diversity of ecologically important species.  We host a seed collecting workshops and seed collecting days in the fall.  As the collection grows, we will be able to provide seeds for future restoration projects.

Public Natural Areas

Most Registered Natural Areas are private properties that are not accessible to the public, but several are owned by cities or non-profits and you can visit them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Mesas, mountain ranges, tallgrass prairies, limestone caves, cypress swamps – Oklahoma’s landscape is a showcase of extraordinary diversity. However, changes in land use have left only a small fraction of wild places in their original condition; some native plants and animals are now threatened with extinction.

Fortunately, outstanding examples of Oklahoma’s natural diversity still remain, many on lands owned by private citizens. The Oklahoma Natural Areas Registry encourages citizen-based conservation of these special areas by promoting awareness of rare species, natural communities, and important geological features. The Natural Areas Program recognizes those landowners who are committed to protecting Oklahoma’s natural heritage.

Potential registered Natural Areas may be recommended by any interested individual or organization. Recommended sites are evaluated by biologists and ecologists with the Oklahoma Biological Survey, who maintain a database of Oklahoma’s significant biological features.

To qualify for the Register of Natural Areas a property must contain at least one of the following natural values:

  • Habitat for native plants or animals that are rare, threatened, or endangered
  • Outstanding natural communities, geological features, or aquatic elements representative of the diversity of Oklahoma
  • Unusual natural features or unique ecological areas

A Natural Areas Registry representative contacts landowners to discuss the special plants, animals, natural communities, or unique geological features that occur on their property. By informing owners of the importance of these sites, the program reduces the chance that significant natural areas might unintentionally be destroyed or degraded. Each landowner may then elect to have their special place listed on the State Register of Natural Heritage Areas.

Registration does not occur without the landowner’s consent and it is publicized only with the landowner’s permission. Directions to the site are never published and registration provides no rights of public access or use.

Oklahoma Registrants sign a non-binding agreement that reflects their long-term commitment to:

  • Protect the area and its unique natural elements to the best of their abilities.
  • Notify the program representative of planned changes in land use and of threats to the area or the plants, animals, and geology within.
  • Notify a program representative of a change of address, intent to sell, or transfer ownership of the area.
Registration is completely voluntary. The agreement simply reflects the owner’s intent to protect their piece of Oklahoma heritage. The agreement is not legally binding and does not subject the area to any regulatory authority. The agreement may be cancelled by either party at any time, although 30 days notice is requested. Removal of an area from the State Register may sometimes be caused by a reduction of its ecological value, due to either natural or unnatural factors.

The generosity and civic-mindedness of Registrants is acknowledged through a personalized plaque awarded by the Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory and the State of Oklahoma. Registrants also receive, free of charge:

  • Annual updates about the Natural Areas Program.
  • Information on the natural history and special needs of the plant, animal, ecosystem, or geologic feature on their property.
  • Visits by a Registry Program representative to check on the health of the registered area.
  • Technical advice and management assistance when requested.
  • Registered Natural Area boundary signs when requested.
  • Most importantly, Oklahoma Registrants have the privelege of ensuring that today’s natural world will be more than mere legend to future generations.

Registration involves no payment or receipt of funds. A program representative can, however, provide information on a variety of land protection methods that can offer financial benefits to the landowner.

Landowners pose at their Registered Natural Area with their recognition plaque.

Mailing list

Sign up for our monthly eNewsletter to get information about this program and other biodiversity information!

Message Us

Are you interested in joining the Natural Areas Program?  Would you like a program representive to meet with you and evaluate your property?

YouTube Channel

Check out our educational webinars and virtual field trips on our YouTube Channel!

Photo Gallery of Registered Natural Areas

Public Natural Areas

Preserves in The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma are part of the Oklahoma Natural Areas Registry.  Several are open to the public or allow visitors during scheduled field days or events.

The Nature Conservancy Preserves

This protected tract of old growth cross timbers is located near Sand Springs.   The site is staffed by volunteers at the visitor center, who also lead walks.

Keystone Ancient Forest

In far western Oklahoma with shinnery oak and sagebrush habitat, the property is the homestead of artist Augusta Metcalfe.  A museum on the grounds displays her art and artifacts of her and her family's life.

Break O' Day Farm & Metcalfe Museum

In southwestern Oklahoma, Quartz Mountain is the western edge of the granite outcrop of the Wichita Mountains.  Quartz Mountain is home to rare plant species, such as live oak and long-haired phlox.  The area is also habitat to mountain lions, golden eagles, and bald eagles.

Quartz Mountain State Park

Black Mesa Trail Sign indicating 3.7 miles to the summit.