It is sad to see the devastation in people’s lives caused by the recent wildfire. While much loss is obvious, there are many things which will only be understood when people set about to put their lives back together. Knowing the spirit of the community, there is little doubt that everyone will rally together to help those who have lost so much.
Those of us at Logan County District 2 especially want to extend our sympathy to the Knox family. Johnny Knox, who lost his life in the fire, had at one time worked for District 2. He always had a cheerful attitude around the shop and I’m sure his family and friends will miss that.
We also want to express our thanks to all the firefighters and emergency workers from across the state who came to help in this emergency, and for the assistance provided by several state departments.
On May 6, Governor Mary Fallin signed a proclamation declaring a burn ban for 36 Oklahoma counties. Any violator of a governor’s burn ban is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 120 days. The violator is also liable for all damages caused by the violation.
Residents affected by the fire can register with the Red Cross for emergency assistance. You can do so by calling 405.282.1194 or 405.228.9500. The Red Cross also has a referral list of other agencies that can assist with immediate needs.
The severity of the wildfires has raised many questions about how to get rid of Eastern Red Cedar trees which propel fire. Commissioner Brian Maughan pioneered a program in Oklahoma County called SHINE (Start Helping Impacted Neighborhoods Everywhere). Under this program, he was able to get state legislation passed allowing counties to use non-incarcerated low level offenders who are sentenced to community service to go onto public and private property to clean and improve areas of concern. The legislation includes cutting and disposing of red cedar trees. Logan County has done some preliminary work toward starting a similar program, but it has yet to be put into operation.
Oklahoma Forestry Services have a website at www.forestry.ok.gov/ercregistry which provides a registry of landowners who have red cedars needing to be cut. However, according to Dan Stidham of The Oklahoma Forestry Services, ninety percent of the cedar which people want removed is not merchantable and has very little or no value commercially. Therefore vendors generally charge a fee for removal. This is usually an hourly charge. The Logan County Conservation District can provide a list of local contractors who will remove cedar trees for a fee. To obtain this information, call 405.282.2363.