High Plains Public Radio

red cedar

Olivia Morrison / Wichita Eagle

Last month saw the worst wildfire in Kansas history. The fires in Kansas can be partially blamed on a plant that was of little concern a half century ago. Fifty years ago red cedar trees in Kansas were counted in the tens of thousands. Now the number is closer to 100 million, reports Kansas.com. Just in the last ten years the number of cedar trees in the state has jumped by thirty million. The cedars, sometimes called junipers, make ideal kindling for wildfires. And when you toss in recent high winds and drought conditions, you’ve got a deadly combination.

What Are Invasives?

Dec 23, 2013
Hillebrand Steve / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Biologists and rangeland conservationists discuss problems caused by the aggressive invasions of native and exotic shrubs such as Tamarisk, Russian Olive, Eastern Red Cedar and reeds on western Great Plains rangelands. These pests adversely impact ag economics, the ecology and native wildlife on the Plains.

Prairie Invaders

Jun 5, 2013

A trip to the Red Hills southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, can be an eye opener for both beautiful countryside and an invading horde of Eastern Red Cedars -- a good tree gone bad.  Red cedars have been a part of the history of the Great Plains from Texas to Canada, and were once controlled from over-population by natural wildfires.  But with the advent of civilization, fires have been controlled to the point that the tree is taking over grazing lands and disastrous results are being reported.  Reduced cattle forage, numbers of grassland birds (especially the prairie chicken), lesser numbers of other wildlife, and decreased stands of  wildflowers are a result of the forestation of the prairie.  One of the most serious side effects is the drain on water supplied from natural aquifers and annual rainfall.