State Forest Resource Assessment Online, Comments Sought

Oklahoma City—Most people know that Oklahoma has a thriving timber industry in eastern counties but relatively few people realize that the state’s forestlands combine for more than 10 million acres or 23 percent of the state’s total area.

Fewer still realize that there are nine distinct forest types across Oklahoma made up of over 150 tree species or that 90 percent of forest lands are privately owned.

A new report, the Oklahoma Forest Resource Assessment, is the result of 18 months work by Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry’s Forestry Services Division with input from a number of state, federal and private agencies and organizations, said Oklahoma State Forester, John Burwell. The report was mandated by the latest U.S. farm bill and will be the basis for a new strategic plan for Oklahoma forestry.

“I think people will enjoy reading the assessment for the tremendous amount of unique facts and details about the state’s forests,” he said. “It not only identifies the forest resources but also details a complete list of threats, issues and opportunities facing those resources.

“Some of the end products will be GIS maps showing the distribution of forests in relation to threats such as insect or disease outbreaks, wildfire or urban sprawl,” Burwell said. “We are in the process of using this data to generate a new strategic plan regarding forest resource issues and opportunities for the next five years.”

People are encouraged to review the assessment and take an online survey to provide comments on the report’s usefulness and leave other feedback. The report contains a great deal of history and facts about the forest industry.

The assessment is located online at http://www.forestry.ok.gov/ofra-draft1. For more information on the assessment contact Erin Johnson with Oklahoma Forestry Services at 405-521-2060.