First Phase of Forest Inventory Nearly Half Finished

An inventory of the forest resources of 18 state counties was estimated to be 45 percent completed as of December 31 and State Forester John Burwell says he expects the project to be completed sometime this summer.  The project to inventory forest resources of the entire state was announced in October.

It will take approximately five years to inventory the entire state, he said.  The inventory process will continue each year thereafter.

Landowners in southeastern Oklahoma counties will be contacted in the coming months before inventory crews enter their property.  Most state forestlands are privately owned and no ownership data will be made public from this survey.

“This inventory started in eastern counties where the last inventory was made in the early 1990s,” he said.  “That information is obviously outdated and we’re excited about getting the new data from this area.

“We’ll be even more thrilled when we’ve completed the inventory of the entire state somewhere between four and five years from now,” Burwell added.  “Oklahoma’s forestlands have an economic impact of over $2.3 billion annually and provide considerable intangible benefits to the state’s citizens.”

Cleaner air and water, soil conservation, wildlife habitat, and beautiful scenery are just a few of the more obvious benefits, he said.  People and communities who lost trees to the recent ice storm may be painfully aware of their aesthetic and intrinsic value.

“The federal inventory crews will be noting damage from this ice storm throughout this entire project,” Burwell said.  “Ice damage from storms like we just experienced will have negative impacts on our trees years from now and it will be interesting to see what the inventory reports teach us in the future.” 

More information is available at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry’s forestry website at www.forestry.ok.gov and at the Forest Inventory Analysis website at www.fia.fs.fed.us.