Oklahoma City Rep. Richard Morrissette has stepped up his fight against the plague of Red Cedar trees taking over the state’s landscape. Now he suggests some of the flu cases in Oklahoma are due to Cedar Fever, an allergy that causes flu-like symptoms. And he has doctors on his side.
“I’ve heard from three or four doctors who say the Red Cedar trees are one of the highest instigators of allergies,” Morrissette said as he professed to continue waging efforts to get a law passed to attack the trees. And he’s using the Cedar Fever to help him with the fight, pointing out the cedar pollen can cause headaches, nausea, swelling, muscle aches, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.
He’s been carrying out the fight against Red Cedars for several years but can’t get support in the legislature. “I don’t believe there’s a commitment here at the capitol. All I get is a lot of talk around here—all talky, talky.”
His bill last year failed in the legislature.
“I’ve been rolled under the bus on past efforts.”
This year, he has HB 1515 which again targets Red Cedars, trees he says are taking over the state to the tune of 700 acres a day, each tree consuming 30 to 40 gallons of water daily.
And with that growth, Morrissette predicts greater health problems such as Cedar Fever.
Part of his effort to clear the land of the pesky cedar trees is another bill, HB 1656, the cedar biomass bill. It calls for the creation of a program to use cedar trees and underbrush as an alternative energy resource. But he admits he’s already getting resistance in the legislature.
Among those not quite ready to support Morrissette are farm groups.
“They’re like cats—you can’t herd them.” And rural and city fire departments are faced with funding shortages. “They walk like they’re on egg shells.”
Morrissette knows that another massive wildfire, like the one last spring that destroyed dozens of homes in eastern Oklahoma County might give him support. But it might be only temporary support, unless lives are lost.