Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Optima National Wildlife Refuge

OPTIMA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.

Located two miles north of Hardesty in the Oklahoma Panhandle's Texas County, the Optima National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) consists of 4,333 acres of grasslands and wooded bottomlands. The federal government established the refuge in 1975 to furnish a habitat for migratory birds on the planned Optima Lake. In 1966 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began constructing a dam, and they impounded the lake in 1978. The expected lake water levels never occurred, leaving the refuge approximately one-half mile from the water. This situation forced wildlife officials to adjust the mission focus to protect the grassland environment as well as the migratory birds and local wildlife. Optima is one of more than five hundred National Wildlife Refuges in the nation. In 1907 Oklahoma's first NWR, for bison, was established in the Wichita Mountains.

Optima NWR hosts a number of Canadian geese and mallards in the winter and is used by songbirds (including scissor-tailed flycatchers, kingbirds, orioles, and woodpeckers) and raptors (with many species of kites, hawks, kestrels, and falcons) as either a stopover or summer residence. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides a checklist that details the species and frequency of the more than 250 birds that have been found within the preserve. Mammals protected include the white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, and others common to the area. The grasslands consist of the shortgrasses blue grama and buffalograss and the sandsage-bluestem prairie tallgrass.

Optima visitors can hunt, under federal and state guidelines, as well as observe and photograph the wildlife. The NWR does not allow fishing on its grounds. The Oklahoma-operated Optima Wildlife Management Area, containing 3,400 acres north of the NWR, allows seasonal public hunting with a state license. The Corps of Engineers allows camping in areas at the lake.

Larry O'Dell

See also: BIRDS, CAMPING, ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURAL ECOLOGY, FISHING, FLORA, HUNTING, MAMMALS, RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT

Bibliography

Russell D. Butcher, America's National Wildlife Refuges: A Complete Guide (Lanham, Md.: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2003).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 9 March 2003.

Oklahoma's Water Atlas (Norman: Oklahoma Water Resources Board, 1984).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photograph Archives (unless otherwise stated).


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, "Optima National Wildlife Refuge," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed November 22, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia