Okeene Rep. Mike Dobrinski’s bill targeting Red Cedar trees was passed unanimously in a recent vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
His House Bill 2239 was passed on an 89-0 vote to establish a pilot program to address the red cedar infestation throughout the state, beginning with a concentration on the North Canadian Watershed. The bill would create the Terry Peach North Canadian Watershed Restoration Act, named after for the former Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach who died last year.
“Red cedars deplete our water supplies, they pose a great fire danger in our state, and they are an overall nuisance,” Dobrinski said. “We’ve been working on this problem for a long time, and it will take a large investment of time and money to address the problem statewide, but taking action is a must.”
Dobrinski said he’s worked with others to craft the bill and particularly thanked former state Sen. Don Williams of Balko who has been following and working on this issue since the 1990s.
The bill, co-authored by Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, was sent to the Senate where it waits for a committee assignment.
Red cedars have taken over some pastures in Oklahoma and also helped fuel wildfires that ended up destroying homes and businesses. They also consume large amounts of water.
An OSU research study showed 1 acre of cedars absorbs 55,000 gallons of water per year. It was also reported one cedar tree could use up to 30 gallons of water a day.