Oklahoma has more to brag about than its rolling prairies. It also has forests covering almost one-fourth of the state. These timber and biomass resources are bringing entrepreneurs from other states with ideas for growing new industries.
Many people, Oklahomans included, might be surprised to learn that almost 23 percent of Oklahoma is forested and in the eastern counties that percentage is 57 percent. Our forest lands are among the most diverse in the nation--ranging from dense pine and hardwood stands in eastern Oklahoma, through the unique Cross Timbers of central counties, and into the riparian forests of our western rivers.
State forestlands have been steadily growing more wood than current businesses use. This puts Oklahoma in a great position to compete for biomass, alternative fuels, and a variety of other wood utilization industries.
“We have had at least one inquiry so far from an out-of-state industry that was pretty amazed that we have this much wood that isn’t being utilized,” said State Forester George Geissler. “Having our newly updated forest inventory gives us credibility and makes us more competitive with surrounding states as we all try to recruit new wood-utilizing industry. This is really very exciting news.”
A recent report released by USDA Forest Service and Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, verifies that the state has significant forestlands that are not fully utilized. The report covers 18 eastern counties and includes these highlights:
- Eastern Oklahoma has 5.7 million acres of forested lands.
- Timberland area has increased 18 percent since 1976.
- Softwood and hardwood volumes are at an all-time high, more than double the 1966 volumes.
- Planted pine volume surged 85 percent, with net growth exceeding removal.
“Not only does this report give us potential for economic development, it also characterizes impacts on forest health and condition—whether man-caused or natural disturbance,” said Geissler. “Our forest ownership is constantly changing—private to industrial and vice versa. This data is a valuable resource to help our citizens learn more about the forests that surround them.”
To view the “Forest Resources of East Oklahoma, 2008” publication, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/FIA or call 405-522-6158 to request a copy of the printed document.
Wed, July 18, 2012
by Michelle Finch-Walker, 580-236-1021 or firstname.lastname@example.org