Duke Ligon, an energy executive based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has started or developed numerous natural resource-focused companies over the course of his long career. A University of Texas graduate and the current head of Mekusukey Oil Company, LLC, Duke Ligon supports a range of nonprofit groups that work to improve the quality of life for the people of the southern Central West. One of these nonprofits is the Nature Conservancy, where he is a member of the board of directors.
Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy strives to preserve the biodiversity of the world’s lands and waterways. And for the past 31 years, the organization has worked to protecting notable environmentally-sensitive sites in Oklahoma. These protected areas now total 100,000 acres.
Four of these sites maintain public access. The more than 1,500 acres of central shortgrass prairie in Black Mesa Nature Preserve, located in Oklahoma’s Panhandle, are home to dozens of species of rare plants and animals. Visitors to the preserve can climb to the state’s highest point, a plateau almost 5,000 feet above sea level.
The Keystone Ancient Forest Preserve safeguards red cedar trees and oaks that are, in some cases, more than 500 years old. The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, at close to 40,000 acres, is the world’s largest stretch of unspoiled tallgrass prairie and is now ranged by thousands of bison. The J. T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve encompasses 17,000 acres of Ozark land, filled with spring-fed creeks and biomes ranging from savanna to forest and pine-filled woodlands.