Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kim Baker shows us the Majesty of Oklahoma

Black Mesa by Kim Baker copyright
Black Mesa is a Nature Conservancy Preserve in the arid panhandle of Oklahoma.
Located in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Black Mesa Nature Preserve consists of approximately 1,600 acres. In 1991, the Conservancy conveyed its property to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department with restrictions regarding development and other use. The preserve protects about 60% of the mesa top in Oklahoma in addition to talus slopes and plains habitat. A native granite monument marks the highest point in Oklahoma — 4,973 feet above sea level.
The Black Mesa area supports 31 state rare species (23 plants and eight animals) and four community types. Here, the Rocky Mountains meet the shortgrass prairie and it is unique in that it represents an area where many species are at the easternmost or westernmost portions of their range. Vegetation on the top of the nearly flat mesa comprises a Bluestem-grama shortgrass community. The mesa's talus slopes support a one-seed juniper/shrub oak community, while similar slopes of neighboring smaller buttes support a one-seed juniper/pinyon woodland community. The plains below the mesa support a shortgrass prairie.
Black Mesa is a birder's paradise any time of the year. Golden eagles, scaled quail, black-billed magpies and pinyon jays are just a few of the birds that may be observed. Black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, mule deer, bighorn sheep and antelope are some of the mammals that may be seen in the mesa region.

Conservation Photographer Kim Baker shows us the wild and beautiful spots in Oklahoma not only to capture them for posterity but also in the hopes of promoting their preservation. Most people outside of Oklahoma are not aware of the diversity of microclimates and spectacular landscape and many types of trees that live in these many unique spots. 
We attended "The Illinois River Survey" on the opposite side of the state from the Black Mesa. It was a three day event that Kim put enormous energy into planning in order to bring attention to the need to preserve this Oklahoma wild and scenic river. Here are some production stills at the event on the banks of the river at various spots. The river had just undergone a 500 year flood so the waters were much higher than usual and the banks much changed. While there was a great deal of flooding damage in Tahlequah for which we are greatly empathetic for those affected, on the positive side as Ed Fite, Administrator of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission pointed out this kind of event actually helps to clear some of the pollution and bacteria out of the river. 

Kim Baker and her equipment

Filmmaker Bob Demboski and Kim walking to a beautiful spot on the Illinois River much changed by the flood.

A gravel bar that wasn't there before the flood.....

Kim getting ready to shoot a very changed spot on the river where she has shot before.

Ripples in the gravel bar from the fierce action of the flood waters.

Beautiful spots along the river...

Some with rock ledges....

Examining the life and health of the river at the Illinois River Survey
See a past blog for a full itinerary of what took place in the three day event.

Seining to find life in the river....

Lower Mountain Fork River by Kim Baker copyright


Lower Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma is located just northeast of Broken Bow.  The Lower Mountain Fork River, the tail water of Broken Bow Lake, offers year round rainbow and brown trout fishing.  This is a great fly fishing spot.  Beavers Bend Resort Park has water front camp sites on the Lower Mountain Fork, and some nice swimming holes.

Kim has told me there are some wonderful trees on the Lower Mountain Fork River. We must go back to south eastern Oklahoma and investigate. They also mention swimming holes on the website above and swimming is a passion of mine.

The next blog will show three more wild spots from Oklahoma in Kim's portfolio of spectacular photographs. The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission has worked with Kim frequently and has great respect for her work and mission. They used one of her photographs of the Illinois River for their poster.  

No comments:

Post a Comment