Crystal Dig Re-opens at Salt Plains Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-opens the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge Selenite Crystal Dig Area.
The area will open to digging at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 25.
The re-opening will coincide with the annual Birding and Heritage Festival held in Alfalfa County April 24-26.
“The re-opening of the crystal dig area is exciting news for northwestern Oklahoma,” said Hardy Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “The Salt Plains Refuge is an important tourism draw for Oklahoma, and a valued partner for the Oklahoma State Parks.”
The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge sits adjacent to Great Salt Plains State Park and the crystal dig area has been a popular destination for school groups, scouts, tourists, birders, and rock hounds for many years. An estimated 30,000 visitors came to the site each year to dig for the selenite crystal with its unique hour glass inclusion. This is the only known site where these crystals are found. The selenite crystal is designated as the Oklahoma State Crystal.
The Crystal Dig Area has been closed to the public since April of 2007, when vials from Chemical Agent Identification Sets were found in the area. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a remedial investigation of the entire dig area. Their final report states: “it is unlikely that munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) or Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS) remain at the project site. It can not be stated with certainty, however, that no MEC or CAIS remain.”
Great Salt Plains State Park offers year-round RV and tent camping, fishing, cabins, small swim area, boating (small boats), playgrounds, nature trail, hiking, birding, equestrian camp and trails. The cabins were recently remodeled as part of the ongoing capital improvements taking place throughout the Oklahoma State Park system.
For more information about Great Salt Plains State Park or the Birding and Heritage Festival contact Russell Nickel, Great Salt Plains State Park at (580) 626-4731 or Becky Wolff, Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge at (580) 626-4794.

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