NORMAN — The eastern red cedar tree, called a “red menace” by some and a wildlife sanctuary by others, may have met its match in State Rep. Richard Morrissette.
The Oklahoma City Democrat has three bills currently in the Oklahoma legislature. One encourages the use of inmate labor in harvesting trees, another tackles the trees as wildfire risks and a third pushes cedar wood as a biofuel.
The trees, once used as Dust Bowl windbreaks, are estimated to render useless about 700 acres of Oklahoma land per day. Range fires, deliberately set and otherwise, used to purge the pastures, but those are no longer practical.
It is estimated that Oklahoma spends more than $400 million annually to absorb the fiscal impact of Eastern Red Cedar in water loss, grazing land and wildlife habitat destruction.
Additionally, the costs to Oklahoma residents in negative health implications due to cedar fever are incalculable.