NORMAN — A trip through the countryside in just about any area of the state will give you a drive-by view of red cedar infestation. Acreage is being gobbled by the trees that grow fast and consume considerable water.
A state representative who has led the fight to find ways to clear the trees is asking for a legislative study on controlling them. The eastern red cedars made great wind blocks during the Dust Bowl, but now there are millions of them throughout the state, impacting water and wildlife habitat.
State Rep. Richard Morissette, D-Oklahoma City, requested the study to bring attention to the 40 to 80 gallons of water per day that the trees consume. The trees also reduce livestock grazing land, wildlife habitat and are a fire hazard.
The trees lit up the sky like torches during the wildfires in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties in 2012. Firefighters urge residents to clear them away from structures.
State programs to harvest the cedars have helped some. Lawmakers have proposed using inmates to remove the trees. Attempts to make commercial products out of the trees also have met with limited success.
Range fires used to cull the trees. With a larger population and more of us living in the country, such controlled fires are no longer an option.
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