Lake McMurtry Natural Resource and Recreation Area is a beautiful nature preserve 10 miles outside of Stillwater.
Backstory and Context
Lake McMurtry is home to a wide range of wildlife species, both indigenous and invasive. In 2012, students from Oklahoma State University (OSU) who were members of The Wildlife Society conducted a survey of the deer population in the area. By observing how much of certain types of plants were being eaten in the area, the students concluded that the area was supporting a low to moderate deer population. To determine this, students divided the area’s foliage into three groups based on recorded preferences of Oklahoma deer populations. The first group included dogwood, elm, greenbriar, and sugar berry; the second redbud; and the third buckbrush, red cedar, chittamwood, and oak.
Invasive species found in the area include the zebra mussel, the salt cedar, and the Eastern red cedar. Zebra mussels, scientific name Dreissena polymorpha, get their name from the striped pattern on their shell and are native to parts of Europe and Asia. They were first found in North America in Lake St. Clair, near Detroit, in 1988. Because they have no known predators in North America they can easily become overpopulated.
The Eastern red cedar, scientific name Juniperus Virginiana, is actually a type of juniper native to, as its name suggests, Eastern North America. Because they are an extremely resilient species that can survive extreme conditions of various types, including heat, cold, and drought. Due to this incredible strength, they can easily become the singular dominant plant species in a region, which is known as creating a monoculture.
The salt cedar, scientific name Tamarix, are shrubs that can range anywhere from 3-40 feet in height. They are evergreen, or deciduous, and were originally brought to North America for ornamentation, shade, and as a way to block wind.