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Donation given to City of Sand Springs, will allow growth at Keystone Ancient Forest

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. — City and economic leaders in Sand Springs announced a major donation Thursday to enhance the city’s Keystone Ancient Forest.

The head of the Sand Springs Parks and Recreation department tells FOX23 that they’ve been planning for quite some time to bring back a portion of the Savanna, where geological studies have proven used to call land where the forest sits, home.

The donation will provide funding to remove much of the existing vegetation on a several-acre section of the forest, and replace it with largely open, grassy fields. The only vegetation that will remain in the section will be strictly native to the area.

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However, the big, ancient trees that make the forest what it is won’t be going anywhere, since they are native to the site.

What will be taken out? A number of invasive plant species that have cluttered up the forest over the years, and grown over the original grassy plains that existed under the ancient trees. The ancient trees were more spread out on the land than the invasive ones taking over current forest.

On top of that, the plant species being brought in are meant to create a habitable environment for the increasingly-endangered monarch butterfly population.

“With the recent announcement of the decline of the monarch due to climate change… it just so happens that’s how this property was even come to known of existence, and having old trees is a university study in climate change,” said Jeff Edwards, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Sand Springs.

The project is all possible thanks to a $10,000 donation by the Sand Springs-based company, Webco. One of the four original investors that got Webco up and running in the 1960s was a man named Irv Frank.

Frank actually owned donated the property the forest sits on the city in 2008. The visitor center recently built at the forest is named in Frank’s honor.

Webco’s $10,000 donation is a direct match of Frank’s initial contribution that helped get Webco off the ground.

“The thought process was, well let’s tie the two together and make a contribution here just as Irv Frank and three other gentlemen made a contribution to Webco many years ago, said Dana Weber, CEO of Webco Industries.

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