When Earl Fink first saw the property with his wife, Dorothy, he was disgusted.
The couple, living at the time near Owasso, were looking for their dream property and drove to see a 320-acre site four miles south of Pawhuska. But what they encountered left them nonplused.
The spot they saw was part of an 8-acre saltwater spill. The land was badly eroded.
"I drove up to the gate where the saltwater spill was and told the wife, 'I do not want that place. It is just an old oil lease,' and drove off," Earl Fink said on Wednesday.
But he returned to the Osage County property a few days later. Remnants of an abandoned well site don't make a good first impression, he said.
"It does not impress you right off," he said. "But I came back a few days later and looked at it again and saw it had potential to be cleaned up."
Not only was there plenty of junk from oil production scattered around, but also an old fence and other debris, he said.
"The owner had been gone five years and the whole place was junky," he said.
Nevertheless, the Finks purchased the land.
It was in bad shape when they bought it, but it looks nothing like it did before, said Dorothy Fink, 72.
The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board had a hand in restoring a portion of the property, spending $46,000 to complete the environmental restoration.
The restored site is a milestone for OERB, said Jennifer Billings, OERB spokeswoman. It marks the 12,000th cleanup provided by the OERB. Since 1994, the organization has spent more than $74 million restoring abandoned oil-field sites around the state. …