Eastern Red Cedar meetings take to the road

An interim study on the Eastern Red Cedar infestation is leading to a series of town halls aimed at identifying private sector partners to involve in the development of marketable solutions to what has become an expensive threat to public and private stakeholders.

The Aromatic Cedar Association, a non-profit organization whose work includes raising awareness will sponsor four meetings throughout the state over the next few weeks.

Meetings will be held Jan. 12 in Stillwater, Jan. 19 in Weatherford, Jan. 26 in Woodward and Feb. 2 in Chickasha. Meeting sites are to be announced after the holidays. With encroachment now reaching 11 million acres, meetings could have been held anywhere in the state, but these four cities have surrounding areas with extremely dense cedar canopy.

"I'm proud to be connected with this initiative. By leveraging a negative, I believe we will see many positive outcomes," State Rep. Richard Morrissette, District 92, stated Dec. 22 at the Capitol after participating in one of a series of on-going working group meetings.

The meetings in January and February will feature a video and live presentations by four of the state's leading authorities who will form a panel for discussion and Q&A with the public. Topics will range from an overview of the problem to profitable methods for those with an interest in setting up small and large cedar utilization businesses.

"Oklahoma is at a crossroads with ERC. We have some great people working on the problem,and this initiative will be aneffort to energize the next phase. We can't wait to employ viable solutions, as long as infestation rates are at 8oo acres lost per day. Our farmers and ranchers have lost important grazing lands and all Oklahomans, rural and urban, are impacted by fire and the critical loss of fresh water to this invasive species," Morrissette concluded.

Meeting notices will be posted through local newspapers and statewide media.