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Oklahomyths: Shoreline Sadness

Fact-checking a persistent Oklahoma myth



Lake Hefner’s 3.86 square miles of water are beautiful, but don’t provide enough coastline to move Oklahoma up in the national ranks.

 


While Oklahoma may be a comparatively young state, it’s nonetheless rich with history, lore and fun facts. Unfortunately, some of those facts aren’t quite so … factual. In this new series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.
 

The Claim: Oklahoma has more shoreline than any other state.

Source: USA Fact File: usacitiesonline.com/usafactfile.htm

Fact Check: This may be the most frequently repeated myth about Oklahoma. Although the state is one of 20 that have no shoreline on either an ocean or one of the Great Lakes, the claim keeps circulating because of the lack of a single national database that totals all types of shoreline, and differences of opinion on what counts as shoreline and how it is measured.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state with the most shoreline is Alaska, with 33,904 miles. Second place is Florida, with 8,436 miles of coastline. Third is Louisiana’s 7,721 miles.

The Oklahoma argument for claiming more shoreline than any other state is along these lines: Sure, we have no ocean or Great Lakes frontage, but we have a lot of lakeshore!

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board notes that Oklahoma has approximately 3,000 lakes and ponds 10 acres or more in size, including more than 200 man-made lakes. The OWRB lists 55,646 miles of shoreline along lakes and ponds. (Even within the state, there is disagreement on the numbers; the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation claims the state has 11,600 miles of shoreline.)

A major flaw in this argument is that it does not take into account that every other state also has interior lakes. Minnesota, for example, counts 11,842 lakes sized 10 acres or larger, compared to Oklahoma’s 3,000. And according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska has 3 million lakes of 5 acres or more, many of them seasonal snowmelt.

Boosters point out that Oklahoma boasts 1,401 square miles of water area in its lakes and ponds. Which is great … but by way of comparison, the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, measures 31,700 square miles.

But wait — not so fast! Oklahoma also has thousands of miles of rivers and streams. Be sure to count them!

The INDUS Corporation, under contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has done just that. Its 2012 survey mapped 150,022 miles of linear rivers and streams in Oklahoma. More than three-quarters of them – 77 percent, or 115,611 miles – are classified as “intermittent or ephemeral flow,” containing water only part of the year or after heavy rains. The OWRB comes up with slightly higher numbers, listing 167,600 miles of rivers and streams. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation claims 78,500 miles of rivers and streams.

Regardless, the INDUS survey finds that other states contain even more streams and rivers. Texas, for example, has 1,589,190 miles of rivers and streams, with 29 percent (454,453 miles) intermittent or ephemeral.

Sometime after the state’s mid-century building boom of man-made lakes, it is likely that an Oklahoma booster added the miles of shoreline of the state’s ponds and lakes and rivers and streams, realized that the total was more than any other state’s seashore and greater than that of the Atlantic Coast (28,673 miles), Gulf Coast (17,141 miles) and Pacific Coast (40,298 miles) – and declared Oklahoma the champion of all, a claim that has been passed on in conversation, guidebooks and school worksheets ever since.
However – sorry to burst our state’s watery bubble – it simply isn’t so.

Another big-picture measure of the prevalence of water in each state is offered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its 2010 survey calculated the total land area and water area of each state, including inland and coastal water.

Oklahoma ranks 35th among the states, with its surface divided between 1.9% water and 98.1% land, far below the national average of 7% liquid.


Highest
Michigan 41.5%
Hawaii 41.2%
Rhode Island 33.1%
Massachusetts 26.1%
Maryland 21.8%
Delaware 21.7%
Florida 18.5%
Louisiana 17.5%
Wisconsin 17.3%

Lowest
Oklahoma 1.9%
South Dakota 1.7%
Indiana 1.6%
Missouri 1.4%
Idaho 1.1%
Montana 1%
West Virginia 0.8%
Iowa 0.7%
Nevada 0.7%
Nebraska 0.7%
Wyoming 0.7%
Kansas 0.6%
Colorado 0.4%
Arizona 0.3%
New Mexico 0.2%

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
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