OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As fire season in Oklahoma continues, Eastern Red Cedar trees also continue to fuel major problems for the state.
They grow almost as quickly as the wildfires they fuel.
Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan has spent the past few years searching for ways to fund his Cedar Eradication program. He started it 10 years ago, but for the last few years funding has dried up.
“I’ve had meetings with the conservation department, the secretary of agriculture and everybody certainly agrees it is a huge, huge problem,” said Maughan.
Maughan said the program was able to knock down hundreds of trees on Oklahoma land to protect residents from a number of problems.
“I think the fires are what normally get some news,” said Maughan. “But it’s really that water issue that is probably the most important.”
The commissioner said the trees not only act as kindling during wildfires but also, each one can suck up nearly 80 gallons at a time, straining an already drained water supply.
Terry Bidwell is a professor Emeritus at Oklahoma State University.
“That should get people in Oklahoma City very concerned because we’re all really running out of water,” said Bidwell. “It’s bad.”
Bidwell has studied the devastating effects of cedar trees and will teach landowners how to get rid of them. He said the invasive tree has devastating effects on the entire state.
“If you let it go, then it just gets worse and more expensive,” said Bidwell. “Red Cedars get larger, are much harder to control. They’re very expensive to take down.”
That was one reason why Commissioner Maughan said his eradication program has a four year waiting list before it lost funding.
Some other funding programs exist but Bidwell said it has not been enough to stamp out the problem.
“The eradication program in a small scale has been very successful across the state,” said Bidwell. “But the overall system is in very bad shape.”