Vandalism and ecosystem damage to close Tulsa Nature Preserve until May 2022 | Local News

The growing popularity of the Redbud Valley Preserve throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has increased foot traffic, as well as instances of vandalism, damaging the environment and ecosystem, the city of Tulsa announced Monday.

Naturalist staff compiled a long list of examples of overuse and vandalism in Redbud Valley which was included in a town press release. These instances include:

Visitors removing, collecting and/or piling stones along the path.

“This both destroys the ecosystem and exposes the homes of many invertebrates that burrow under these rocks for protection and reproduction. Every time a rock is disturbed, an animal loses a potential home. rocks have jobs — they hold soil in place — removing them can cause erosion,” the city said.

Visitors poach the plants along the grassland and savannah. The rare little barrel cactus is nearly extinct in the reserve due to poaching.

Visitor dogs hunt deer, rabbits and squirrels and harass other wildlife. In addition, there is the possibility of spreading diseases to animals in the reserve. For example, diseases such as distemper can ravage a local population of raccoons.

Visitors climb over the rocks, disturbing the habitat and destroying the fragile lichens and mosses as well as the rare ferns that grow on them.

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