With Ward 2 Commissioner Linda Agee pushing for Eastern Red Cedar Tree removal, local Don Forsberg came forward at the Monday, April 15 city commission meeting to commend the commission for their work so far.
“[Red Cedar trees] are not only a fire hazard, but it’s a water consuming situation as well,” Forsberg said in an interview.
Forsberg said he has been working with various commissions over the years, and so far has had no luck. Until this commission, he said.
“Thank God they’re doing something,” Forsberg said.
A lake leasee, Forsberg said he would like to see the city take a proactive approach to removing the trees.
“They go up like fire crackers when they catch fire,” he said, adding that they produce allergens and consume more water than other plants.
Agee said she would like to see money budgeted to work toward eradicating some of these trees.
“We really have to come up with a good plan,” she said. “You also have to look at controlling the encroachment in the future.”
She added that she would like to educate private landowners as a part of this plan, in hopes that they would assist in the city’s efforts.
“I kind of think if the city shows some initiative and in front of this, that it will encourage others to follow suit,” Agee said.
Forsberg said he would like to see everyone contribute a little, but didn’t think that leasees, or non-landowners, should be expected to.
“It isn’t really fair for the leasees to be burdened with removing these,” he said, adding that the city and other organizations allowed the trees to grow out of control, not the leasees.
“But if everybody could contribute a little something to this, it would be good,” Forsberg added.
While removal is a good option, Don Turton, associate professor at Oklahoma State University, said it’s difficult to tell exactly how much water could be added to runoff without doing Shawnee-specific research.
“We’d really have to know how many cedar trees were there,” Turton, who also researches with the OSU Water Resources Center, said.
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More red cedar trees could result in less water available for runoff, as these trees don’t have a dormant season as grass and other plants do. However, if the red cedar problem surrounding the lake watershed isn’t very prevalent, the amount of runoff wouldn’t like increase any noticeable amount.
“How big of an increase you’ll see really depends on how many red cedar trees are there right now,” Turton said.
However red cedar encroachment doesn’t take long, he said.
“If you don’t do anything now, the problem is only going to get worse,” Turton said.
So far the city commission has not taken any action on the matter.