Kirkpatrick Family Fund Announces $500,000 Matching Grant to Create Endowment 17,000-Acre Preserve Along the Illinois River

The Illinois River along the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah, OK. Photo by Mike Fuhr.

The Illinois River along the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah, OK. Photo by Mike Fuhr.

Press Release By: Katie Hawk on behalf of the Nature Conservancy

TULSA, OK – The Kirkpatrick Family Fund has announced a $500,000 matching gift to The Nature Conservancy for the conservation of wildlife habitat at J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah, OK via an endowment fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

“This recent gift will help the Nature Conservancy maintain the Nickel Preserve for years to come,” said Christian Keesee, President of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. “Most importantly, it will enable them to help sustain the plant and animal communities on the preserve, as well as develop the land as a demonstration site in land management best practices.”

The J. T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve is the largest privately protected conservation area in the Ozarks. The preserve was formed in 2000 as the result of a land gift from the John Nickel Family. This 17,000-acre landscape rests in eastern Oklahoma’s rolling Cookson Hills, overlooks the Illinois River and features a herd of elk that was re-introduced in 2005 after being absent from the Ozarks for more than 150 years.

“This contribution comes at an important time,” said Mike Fuhr, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. “Fully endowing the preserve will ensure that future generations of Oklahoma will continue to benefit from the science, stewardship and conservation of 17.000-acres of native habitat along the Illinois River at the Nickel Preserve.”

The Kirkpatrick Family Fund established the endowment fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in memory of James K. Hotchkiss, a family friend and former Conservancy trustee who valued the preservation of the Illinois River.

“James Hotchkiss was a long time family advisor and was passionate about the conservation of our natural resources. When he passed away, we could think of no more fitting testament to his lifetime of service than the establishment of the James K. Hotchkiss Fund for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. This fund was established not only as a tribute to Jim, but also to support the J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve in northeast Oklahoma,” said Keesee.

Donors have until Nov. 30, 2016 to make matching gifts to the James K. Hotchkiss endowment fund for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and can do so by visiting occf.org/ncok or contacting Gayle Farley the Oklahoma City Community Foundation at 405-606-2910.

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About Roseanne McKee

Journalist who enjoys reporting the community events/news of Pawhuska, Okla. Pawhuska has a rich culture as the home of the Osage Nation. Cattle ranching, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and the oil industry are all located near Pawhuska. The people are warm, generous and unpretentious. I love Pawhuska!
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