Conference to highlight new uses for Eastern Red Cedar trees

A two-day seminar, “Eastern Red Cedar: From Peril to Profit” will be held July 8 and 9, 2008, at the Moore-Norman Technology Center located at 13301 South Pennsylvania Avenue in Oklahoma City. The conference will highlight recent scientific studies and emerging technology that shows Eastern Red Cedar trees have a variety of unique uses valuable to our society.

Experts in natural resources, forestry, entrepreneurship, economics and medical industry will provide information on different Eastern Red Cedar management techniques, marketing opportunities, health concerns and resource issues.

“Eastern Red Cedar trees are actually being under-utilized,” said Dr. Tom Lucas, coordinator for the High Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council, based in Buffalo, Oklahoma. “They have more to offer than many people realize. A recent study shows by-products from the trees can actually be marketed for profit for landowners, business owners, entrepreneurs and communities.”

The High Plains RC&D is the host for the conference, and spear-headed an Eastern Red Cedar study with grant funding from Forestry Services of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry.

Speakers at the From Peril to Profit conference will present findings of the recent USDA Red Cedar Study, as well as economic development project ideas, how to manufacture cedar products for profit and new business development using red cedar. Scientist and health professionals will also discuss the benefits to society from the removal of Red Cedar, and it’s affect on wildlife, water supplies and the health of Oklahomans.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is the most common and widespread of the five junipers found in Oklahoma. Studies have shown the Eastern Red Cedar is a source of a wide variety of valuable by-products, including bio-fuel.

“This is good news for everyone,” Lucas stated. “Land owners now have the opportunity to receive income for the cedar trees on their land to help offset the high cost of their removal. This can also open the door for entrepreneurs and existing businesses to take advantage of the by-products.

“Additionally, communities benefit from the increased water supply and economic boost,” he says.

Landowners, business owners, entrepreneurs, medical field specialists, extension & university staffs, federal & state agency employees, forestry industry representatives, elected officials and decision makers from all states and communities affected by Easter Red Cedar are encouraged to attend this first-of-its-kind conference.

Registration deadline is June 20, 2008. Registration is $50 for both days and includes three meals. Guest registration, which is for meals only, is available for $35. Registration is available through the High Plains RC&D at 580-735-2023, x4 or register online at

The Ramada Limited, located at 7400 S. May Ave. in Oklahoma City is the host hotel, offering a special rate of $55 for conference attendees.

Sponsors of the conference include the USDA- NRCS, Forestry Division, Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture, Food, & Forestry, Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce, NRCS, Chesapeake Energy, City of Oklahoma City, and Department of Water & wastewater, City of Oklahoma City, Dewey, Ellis, and Woodward County Conservation Districts, High Plains RC&D, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Environmentally Correct Concepts, inc., Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Commissioners of the Land Office, Chesapeake, Oklahoma Economic Development Authority, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, RedGold Cedar Fiber, Inc., Brix-Berg International, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, USDA-Agriculture Research Service, and the National Grazinglands Laboratory.

Facts about Eastern Red Cedar

  • A USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) survey in 1985 found an estimated 3.5 million acres of rangeland, pasture and forestland had been invaded by cedar compared to 1.5 million acres in 1950. The acreage increased to eight million acres by 2004 and without control will reach 12.6 million acres by 2013 (28 percent of the Oklahoma landscape). The surveys are based upon estimates of land with at least 50 cedar trees per acre.
  • In Oklahoma, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) estimates the number of Eastern Red Cedars is increasing at an estimated rate of 852 acres a day or over 300,000 acres a year. It is estimated that at this rate of spread, the red cedar population doubles every 18 years. ·The trees are affecting people’s health, reducing productivity from grasslands and destroying wildlife habitat, all of which is costing the state millions of dollars each year, according to the Red Cedar Task Force formed in 2002 by the Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Environment.
  • Oklahoma State University research shows that one acre of cedar trees can absorb 55,000 gallons of water per year, which means less water goes into lakes and aquifers, threatening water supplies for cities and towns.
  • In 2000, it was estimated that red cedars cost Oklahoma $218 million dollars annually through catastrophic wildfires, as well as loss of cattle forage, wildlife habitat, recreation and water yield. By 2013 that figure is expected to increase to $447 million if major preventative control steps are not taken to control the invading cedars.
  • Eastern Red Cedar trees have become a problem across the western United States with exploding populations, due to their fast growth and high cost of removal ($50-$150 per acre). They are an invasive species that has literally invaded the land. Eastern Red Cedar is the most widely distributed conifer in the eastern United States, east of the Rockies, with isolated occurrences in Oregon in the west.
  • Land management planning assistance, such as prescribed burning and follow up management are available through the NRCS. Cost-share funding for cedar removal is also available through NRCS. Interested landowners can contact local NRCS field office personnel. NRCS has field offices in nearly every county in the United States.
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