State of Oklahoma
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2012
Rep. Richard Morrissette, District 92
State Capitol – Room 543
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Contact: Jacklyn Brink-Rosen
DROUGHT CONTINUES – CEDAR REMOVAL DEMONSTRATION SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY AUGUST 6th
(Oklahoma City, OK) On Monday, Governor Fallin declared a state of emergency for extreme and exceptional drought in all 77 counties, as residents around the state continued wildfire clean up efforts.
The drought is now blamed for contributing to major fires in Comanche, Payne and Pottawatomie Counties and the demise of crops and ground cover to include otherwise hardy prairie grass and severe damage to several tree species but not eastern redcedar. Vegetation loss expose soil thus preventing a natural cooling process from occurring while cedar canopy continue to avert what little rain has fallen drawing from water stores to survive the extreme conditions: a recipe for disaster.
The Department of Agriculture recently estimated the Oklahoma cedar population at one million acres; individual trees consume 80 gallons of water per day, as residents are being asked to begin voluntary water rationing.
“Last session, I promised to remind those who would not support the rights of farmers and ranchers to use their available financial resources to have cedar removed of their irresponsibility. We cannot collect taxes from a defunct operation. And, now the drought has returned, the cattle are being sold off, crops are burned up and the cedar fires blaze on!” said state Rep. Richard Morrissette, (D-OKC)
Described as a comprehensive addendum to his earlier cedar legislation, last session, Morrissette brought HB2695, the Oklahoma Resource Reclamation Act. A handful of Senators took issue with the 4-part measure saying the “in lieu of ” section was simply a tax credit and killed the bill. But, supporters pointed out that the offer was a one time, one year-long opportunity to incentivize cedar removal from the state’s largest tracts of land by way of a “self-subsidize” formula to benefit all Oklahomans with an amazingly insignificant fiscal impact: $560.00.
“We’ve learned a lot about the problem since passage of 2010-HB2686. The board that has been established is tracking all of the latest developments and looking for cedar markets, but the expense of removal continues to be the challenge. I did get part of what I wanted in an amendment to 2012-SB1539 (Armes-Brecheen) and that should provide some relief.”
SB1539, with the Morrissette amendment, allows for cedar to be harvested by inmates on both public and private lands. Harvested cedar will be stacked and identified as available at no cost for those registered with the cedar board as manufacturers of cedar products.
“Now, I have several tree saw companies asking to demonstrate their wares. In accordance with HB2686, I am doing what I can to showcase what’s out there to help with removal. Anybody with equipment, this is your opportunity to show Oklahomans what you’ve got. Costs to purchase these items could have been made easier for our farmers and ranchers with HB2695, but it is what it is.” said Morrissette.
On Monday, August 6th, at 10 AM, there will be a demonstration given by ROOTHOG of Oklahoma and the Marshal Tree Saw Company with assistance from Bobcat of Oklahoma. The cedar removal demonstration will be held at the 155 acre Harrah Industrial Park located on Reno Avenue, 1/4 mile east of Harrah Road(Highway 270). Highway 270 is four lanes and connects with Interstate Highway 40.
Directions: I-40 east to Harrah Newalla road exit. Go north on Harrah Newalla road to Reno. East on Reno to Industrial Blvd, which will be on the south side of the street.
The demonstration is being held in conjunction with efforts by the office of Special Projects, Commissioner Brian Maughan, Oklahoma County, whose SHINE program removes cedar using offenders sentenced to community service. Oklahoma County will provide a water truck at the demonstration site to prevent ignition of dry materials. ROOTHOG will provide a tent for visitors as well as bottled water and snacks.
“I will host as many of these as necessary. Call me if you’d like to participate, next time.”