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Cherokee Nation Land Purchase, Cave AD-17, Adair County - November 2007
Southwest Region, November 28, 2007
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Richard Stark of the Oklahoma ES Field Office and Steve Hensley, manager of the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, met with Pat Gwin, Jeannine Hale, and Andrea Taylor of the Cherokee Nation to discuss future management and use of two adjacent tracts of land in Adair County, Oklahoma, recently purchased by the Cherokee Nation.  One of the properties contains a limestone cave used each year by a maternity colony of the federally-listed endangered Ozark big-eared bat, cave AD-17.  The Cherokee Nation purchased the land primarily to facilitate fishing opportunities for Tribal members.  The open pool and shoreline of a flood water control structure that is popular with the local fishing community of the Cherokee Nation occurs on the properties.  The Cherokee Nation also is considering adding the newly acquired land to the list of Tribal lands open to hunting to Tribal members, and allowing the selective harvest of shagbark hickories by permit from the properties.  Shagbark hickory is a tree of cultural significance to the Cherokee Nation because it is used to create the stick utilized to play Stickball, a cultural activity.  The Service and Cherokee Nation discussed our mutual concern that opening the properties to hunting and other human uses would increase the chances that people would find and enter the remotely located cave.  Human disturbance of maternity colonies is a major threat because disturbance can cause cave abandonment and/or the abandonment of the young during the maternity season.  The Service recommended working with the Oklahoma ES Office and the Refuge to construct a cave gate on the entrance of the cave to prevent human entry and disturbance to the maternity colony.  Selling a conservation easement to the Service also was discussed.  The Cherokee Nation indicated that they would be interested in selling a conservation easement to the Service.  Should the land be acquired through a conservation easement, it could be managed as part of the Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge.    

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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