A FRIDAY SCIENCE FOR MOM

Last week I went along with my mom and sister to take my niece to her dad’s in Colorado (I’ll blog more on the trip later, promise). On the way back we were coming across the Oklahoma panhandle and my mom noticed a field where someone had pulled up all the cedar trees. My mom was outraged that someone would just rip trees out of the ground like that. My sister and I had to tell her that pulling up the cedar trees is the best thing for the land, and here’s why. Cedar trees are an invasive blight. The Oklahoma Natural Resources Conservation Service (ONRCS) estimates that the number of the eastern red cedar (really a juniper) is increasing at a rate of about 762 acres a day. That’s right my friends, I said “A DAYâ€?. The trees that were once scarce are now wrecking havoc on our prairies. The spread of the cedar came with the early settlers which introduced land management practices and the encouragement of using them as windbreaks for homesteads.

The cedar trees are causing extensive damage to the landscape by reducing productivity of the land and destroying wildlife habitats not to mention that they go up like tinder boxes. The pollen production of the trees, which tripled from 1988 to 1995, cause serious problems for allergy sufferers (like me) and they are threatening the water supply. One acre of cedar trees can use up to 55,000 gallons of water a year. The Arbuckle Restoration Project has been organized to help educate and provide resources for landowners in dealing with the cedar invasion, but prescribed fire (managed fire under favorable weather conditions) is the best way to remove cedar trees, which are fueling many of the wildfires throughout Oklahoma and Texas.