From Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
-- Oklahoma's sportsmen will soon have access to a new wildlife management area (WMA) in western Oklahoma thanks to funds from fishing and hunting legacy permit sales and the State Wildlife Grants Program.
The new tract, to be known as Cimarron Bluff WMA, is located about 15 miles east of Buffalo and comprises 3,402 acres of prime mixed grass prairie habitat adjoining the Cimarron River in eastern Harper County.
The property was purchased with money earned through the sale of fishing and hunting legacy permits and State Wildlife Grants funds. The fishing and hunting legacy permit is a $5 permit required of most annual license holders who hunt, fish or trap, or attempt to take fish or wildlife in any manner. Funds derived from the sale of legacy permits are used by the Department to purchase or lease property for public fishing and hunting.
The State Wildlife Grants program is a federal cost-share program that was initiated in Congress in 2000. It provides funding to state wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for distribution among universities, conservation groups and other state agencies in order to develop more effective conservation programs for rare and declining species.
"Up to this point, most of the money allocated to Oklahoma through the State Wildlife Grants program has been used for wildlife surveys," said Russ Horton, lands and wildlife diversity supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
"While these things are a necessary part of sound wildlife management, this purchase represents an on-the-ground approach to acquiring and restoring wildlife habitat. A number of wildlife species, including some identified in Oklahoma's Wildlife Action Plan as a species of greatest conservation need will directly benefit from the habitat on Cimarron Bluff WMA."
Unique species for which the purchased land can provide habitat are, among others, the Texas horned lizard, lesser prairie chicken, western massasagua snake, long-nosed snake, Bell's vireo, long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike and western big-eared bat. In all, over 50 species of special management concern in Oklahoma will benefit from habitat management activities at Cimarron Bluff.
The property adjoins the Cimarron river, providing potential habitat for an additional variety of species such as the Arkansas River shiner, Arkansas darter, interior least tern and whooping crane.
In addition, hunting will be offered, more than likely in the form of controlled hunts for deer this fall, and spring turkey season will be open starting in 2009 with a one-tom limit. The area will be open to small game hunting (including quail) during the fall of 2008. At its April meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved emergency rules to establish hunting seasons on the area, and complete regulations will be outlined in the "2008-09 Oklahoma Hunting Guide."