Oklahoma Takes a Stand: Combating Invasive Species with Innovative Conservation Measures

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — In observance of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission is highlighting the significant strides made under the Terry Peach North Canadian Watershed Restoration Act in combating the invasive red cedar problem in the state. This week-long initiative aims to bring attention to the pervasive threat of invasive species to Oklahoma’s ecosystems, economy, and communities, with a special focus on the challenges and solutions related to the spread of Eastern Red Cedars (Juniperus virginiana).

Eastern Red Cedars, once considered a minor nuisance, have proliferated dramatically across Oklahoma, posing severe risks to the state’s biodiversity, water resources, and fire safety. These invasive trees consume vast amounts of water, outcompete native vegetation, exacerbate wildfire risks, and contribute to allergic reactions among the population.

In response, the Terry Peach North Canadian Watershed Restoration Act, named after the former Secretary of Agriculture, has been a cornerstone in the state’s efforts to address these challenges head-on. The act facilitates studies on the environmental and impacts of red cedars and funds the hiring of cedar eradication technicians for the creation of brush-free zones around communities. Furthermore, it has championed the use of prescribed burns as a method to control the cedar population, offering workshops to empower rural fire departments and prescribed burn associations.

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission remains committed to leveraging the Terry Peach Act to its fullest potential, ensuring that Oklahoma’s natural landscapes are preserved for future generations. By fostering collaboration between government agencies, local communities, and stakeholders, the commission aims to enhance awareness, education, and action against invasive species throughout the state.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is a call to action for all Oklahomans to participate in the fight against invasive species. We encourage residents, community leaders, and organizations to get involved by educating themselves on invasive species, participating in local eradication efforts, and advocating for sustainable land management practices.