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The OERB marks its historic 12,000th environmental restoration

Since 1994, the OERB has been restoring abandoned oilfield sites at no cost to landowners. The OERB is proud to reach its 12,000th restoration. The program is funded voluntarily by oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.


“It was in bad shape when we bought it. It looks nothing like what it used to,” said Dorothy Fink, reflecting on her homestead in Osage County.
17 years ago, Dorothy and her husband, Earl, purchased their American dream - 320 acres of open ranch land near Pawhuska, Okla.  And, thanks to an environmental restoration by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, they say the property is nearly perfect.
“I wanted to get rid of the tanks over on the south end. It was really unsightly; it was really an eyesore,” said Dorothy.
The Fink’s restoration marks the 12,000th clean up provided by the OERB. Since 1994, the organization has spent more than $74 million restoring abandoned oilfield sites around the state of Oklahoma. The OERB currently restores two to three sites per day; 600 to 800 sites annually. Oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners voluntarily fund the OERB and its restoration program.
This 12,000th site includes historic oil production dating back to 1913. The Finks have been working to clean up the abandoned well sites on their own since buying the property for cattle 17 years ago. However, numerous old storage tanks, hydrocarbon pits, rusted pipe and heavy concrete debris proved too expensive and unmanageable for the Finks to remove themselves.
“I’d done everything I can do to the land with a tractor and chain, you know, pulling up all kinds of old trash, sucker rods, pipe, the old rod lines were still here,” said Earl Fink.
For nearly 14 years, the Finks drove out to Pawhuska every single day – 100 miles round trip – to work the land and the 100 head of cattle they run. They even began building a one-of-a-kind Santa Fe-style adobe on the acreage to call home.
While they adored their burgeoning ranch and gorgeous new home, the fact remained that years of damage from historic oil production left the land scarred.
That was, until Dorothy started making a few phone calls.
“I remember a lady doing an ad and she said how proud her dad would be of his place… and it didn’t cost them a dime,” said Dorothy, referring to a commercial the OERB televised promoting its free environmental restoration program.
Dorothy’s phone calls worked and it was not long until the Finks found out their ranch had been approved for clean up. Little did they know, the restoration would exceed their wildest dreams.
OERB contractors went to work on the land. The old storage tanks were cut up and hauled away. Dozens of yards of rusted, abandoned flowline that once transported oil from the well to the tanks was pulled up from the ground and removed. Crews even installed a rock filled wire mesh gabion mattress to control erosion. New topsoil and sod will encourage new vegetation growth in an area that was heavily scarred by historic saltwater runoff.
“All we were asking about was the old tanks. Then, they wanted to know if we wanted to get the erosion done, then the concrete power station, and another concrete slab. We had no idea you all would get everything done,” said Earl. 
Dorothy beams when she talks about their land now.
“We are really thrilled. We get out here in the evening and drive the land. And, he’s always saying how proud he is of how good it looks,” said Dorothy.
The Finks will finish out their retirement years on this land, raising cattle and living their version of the American story.
“This was like a dream that we got this land. It was Earl’s dream. We’re in it together,” said Dorothy.
Created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1993, the OERB is funded voluntarily by oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners through a one-tenth of 1 percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas. The OERB’s purpose is to conduct environmental restoration of orphaned and abandoned well sites and to educate Oklahomans about energy.


 natural gas
 environmental restoration
 well site clean up

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