Plan Emerging for Cedar Control Efforts Following WildfiresFri, 10 Aug 2012 09:54:16 CDT
Each year in the U.S. approximately 90 firefighters die in the line of duty. Of those, 60 percent are volunteer firefighters. Volunteers fighting wildfires in Oklahoma struggle with eastern red cedar and limited resources 100 percent of the time.
The Eastern Red Cedar Registry Board will have its monthly meeting at the Department of Agriculture, 2nd floor at 10 a.m. Aug. 29. Members of the registration committee will present plans for beginning official documentation of residents with cedar infestation from among the state’s 87 conservation districts.
On Sept. 6, the Public Safety Committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives will host an interim study 12-034 by Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) to link those land owners who have registered with the Cedar Registry Board to an inmate cedar harvesting program. The program on public and private lands is to be placed in operation under SB1539-2012 as soon as possible to reduce infestation and the threat of fire. Presenters to the study include Dom Garrison, Associate State Director, Skills Centers Division, OK Career Tech. , Clay Pope, Executive Director, OK Association of Conservation Districts, representatives from both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Corrections.
Morrissette will host a public hearing at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Oct. 10 to allow citizens the opportunity to ask questions of state leaders on the issue of cedar proliferation. A section of the agenda will be set aside to address the possible need for the establishment of a cedar department within state government to bring organization and real results to management efforts. Other agenda items include a review of last session’s cedar legislation, House Bill 2695, the Oklahoma Resource Reclamation Act, defeated in the Senate. Morrisssette intends to call on Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, conservation district directors and state tax commission land appraisers and others to comment in order to perfect bill language for reintroduction session 2013.
“At this point, Oklahoma’s cedar control policy is - at best- reactionary; manage the problem after the fire breaks out,” Morrissette said.
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