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March 13, 2014

City to weed out red cedars at lake

EDMOND — The City of Edmond has found a useful way to minimize the invasive Eastern Red Cedar tree population of Arcadia Lake. A Red Cedar Harvest project created by the Urban Forestry Department is set to begin at the lake on city-managed property, said Ryan Ochsner, Urban Forestry coordinator.

Ochsner noticed last year that some mulch was needed for the city’s mature trees to help them retain water on medians and landscaped areas. Water retention is needed to offset periods of drought that Edmond has experienced in recent years, he said.

“I included in this budget we’re working with some funds to buy mulch for this year,” Ochsner said. “In thinking about it, I knew we had a need to remove some cedar trees at the lake.”

Producing mulch from the Eastern Red Cedar at the lake will save the city money, he said.

“I had anticipated the mulch expense to be around $14,000,” Ochsner said. “We should get the mulch produced for around $10,000.”

Aerial photographs of Arcadia Lake reveal a substantial amount of land is being taken over by the Eastern Red Cedar, Ochsner said. The change is significant during the past decade.

The cedar trees spread quickly across the terrain. So when an area is not maintained to limit the spread of the trees, it allows for them to mature and reproduce, Ochsner said.

“Since they do so well, they really compete with our other trees that they get in amongst and certainly the grasslands that are out there,” he said.

Eastern Red Cedar trees can become a fire risk in areas where surrounding grass lands have not been mowed. Fires generally do not cause the cedar trees to burn unless tall grass spreads flames to the combustible branches, he added.

Fire spreads from them more quickly when they combust, sending sparks through the air.

Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Lenz said the Eastern Red Cedar hinders fire prevention.

“They are very problematic,” Lenz said. “… Any time we get any kind of stand of the Red Cedar near an exposure, near something we need to protect, it’s an issue.”

He said the tree does not actually explode but will burn rapidly in dry conditions.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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