Forest and Land Management

Landowner Assistance

Forest and Woodland Management

From the pine forests of the east, to the unique Cross Timbers forest of central Oklahoma and the riparian areas of the Great Plains, OFS Foresters work with landowners who want to actively manage and care for their trees and property.  No matter what your goals might be, your OFS Forester is there to provide you the best management keys to success.

We can help you with:

For more information contact the Forester near you. (Link website page – http://www.forestry.ok.gov/area-contacts)

Why Manage Your Forests and Woodlands?

What do you see when you look at your trees?

  • Ten trees or ten acres of trees?
  • A scenic view?    
  • A future home site?    
  • A haven for recreation?    
  • A habitat for wildlife?     
  • A family legacy?     
  • A one-time cash crop?      
  • A long-term investment?
  • Regardless of what you see, or what you own . . .

Management is key.

Management helps keep your trees and forest land healthy and productive today and tomorrow, and increases economic, environmental and social benefits from them. If your goal is maintaining your forest land, good management means wise stewardship.

Whatever your objectives–profit, sport, recreation, scenery, wildlife habitat, or conservation — good management can help get you there. Good management guides you toward maintaining a healthy forest and demonstrating social, environmental, and ecological responsibility. Whether you represent the fourth generation of Oklahoman on your land or the first, managing it preserves your legacy for future generations.

So what is your next step? Keep reading.

Planning Your Forest’s Future

Proper land management begins with a plan – your plan. It should reflect your goals for your forest land and provide guidance on how to achieve them. OFS Foresters are here to assist you and guide you through the planning process.

The result of this process is a written management plan tailored to you, your trees, and your land.  And once a plan is written, OFS does not consider our job done.  We continue to be there in order to provide personalized technical assistance. 

Our foresters are available to advise you on the implementation of forest management activities and practices, including reforestation, TSI, prescribed fire, harvesting, and water quality best management as well as recommend available grants and cost-sharing programs.

Whether you are looking to create a new management plan or enhance your working plan for your forest land, this is the place to begin.  These services are free of charge.

Let us help you. . . .  . contact a Forester near you (link to website page –  http://www.forestry.ok.gov/area-contacts) or complete our online request for assistance form (link to online form).

Forest Taxation/Estate Planning 

Landowners need to be familiar with the tax implications and incentives associated with forestland ownership, especially related to reforestation expenses and timber harvest income. The federal government recognizes that growing timber is a long-term, often high-risk investment, and these tax incentives are offered to small private landowners to encourage them to grow timber and reforest their lands after timber harvest.

Landowners who are not aware of the reforestation tax credit and amortization provisions are missing out on one of the few long-term incentives available to them for growing trees. The publication contains an example of how these incentives work, and how landowners may claim them when filing federal income tax forms. It also contains a brief overview of capital gains tax treatment of timber income, and how to handle cost-share payments.

An excellent website created solely for the purposes of making landowners aware of forest taxation issues is the National Timber Tax Website. More detailed information and assistance should be obtained from a competent tax adviser familiar with timber tax treatments.

Forest Management Grant/Cost-Share Programs

The following grant and cost-share programs are available to Oklahoma forest landowners.  Some programs are county specific.  Please contact your local OFS Forester for more information.

Trees for Oklahoma Program

This is an initiative to expand pine reforestation on recently harvested land or on lands being converted to forests SE Oklahoma. The program is funded by Huber Engineered Woods LLC of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to provide free seedlings to qualified landowners.

Applications are accepted year-round.

The “Trees for Oklahoma Pine Seedling Program” is an initiative to expand pine reforestation on recently harvested land or on lands being converted to forests in designated counties throughout SE Oklahoma.  The goal of the program is to help private landowners successfully plant one million pine seedlings throughout southeastern Oklahoma on an annual basis.

The program is funded by Huber Engineered Woods LLC of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to provide free seedlings to qualified landowners throughout the nine designated counties in Oklahoma.  Landowners that own land in the following counties are eligible to participate in the program:  Atoka, Bryan (east half), Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain, Pittsburg, and Pushmataha.

For more information, you can contact your local OFS Forester or view a brochure that outlines the program and its requirements.

Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program

Southern pine beetle (SPB) is a major threat to the pine forests of Oklahoma and the southern United States.  This cooperative program with the USDA Forest Service, encourages landowners to implement practices which reduce the susceptibility of Oklahoma’s forests to future SPB outbreaks.

Funding is Available  — Applications are Being Accepted

Federal cost share incentives are available to encourage forest landowners to initiate prevention measures against future infestations of the southern pine beetle and to restore forest lands that have been impacted by recent southern pine beetle activity.  

  • Maximum cost-share limit per NIPF landowner per Federal fiscal year: $10,000
  • Prioritize work in moderate to high hazard areas.
  • Thinning is known to be the preferred practice for reducing a forest stand’s susceptibility to southern pine beetle and will likely constitute the majority of forest management performed.

Counties included in this program:

For more information regarding this program please download the program guidelines and application (linked to pdf file) or contact your local OFS Forester (forester map).

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (NRCS) — Cost-Share

This project will provide landowners with financial and technical assistance to improve or establish forest land. Only private, non-industrial forest land within the LEA is eligible. Through a cooperative agreement, Oklahoma Forestry Services Foresters provide direct technical assistance to landowners.  Financial Assistance will be provided through EQIP to establish and improve forests on lands with a site index of 50 or more.

 Environmental benefits will include carbon sequestration, sediment reduction, and improvements in the quantity and quality of forest products. Other benefits include opportunities for local land users to implement best management practices in an affordable manner. 

Applications are Being Accepted – (Linked to the page below – http://www.forestry.ok.gov/forestry-eqip)

Forestry Environmental Quality Enhancement Program (EQIP)

This project will provide landowners with financial and technical assistance to improve or establish forest land. Only private, non-industrial forest land within the counties included in Local Emphasis Area is eligible.

Forestry LEA Counties

Through a cooperative agreement, OFS Foresters will provide direct technical assistance to landowners. They will develop site-specific forest management plans. Financial Assistance will be provided through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s EQIP program. 

Environmental benefits will include carbon sequestration, sediment reduction, and improvements in the quantity and quality of forest products. Other benefits include opportunities for local landusers to implement best management practices in an affordable manner.

Objectives of this program are to establish or improve forestland. Reduce erosion and sedimentation by establishing or improving forestland. Demonstrate Best Management Practices for forestland. Help Limited Resource and Socially Disadvantaged Producers manage and improve their forestlands for greater economic and environmental benefits.

For more information, contact your local OFS Forester (link to website page – http://www.forestry.ok.gov/area-contacts)

Tree and Forest Health

The health of our state’s trees, forests and woodlands is important so that the environmental services they provide will be available to our citizens.  At OFS we conduct numerous activities and provide services protecting our forests from insects, disease and invasive species.

We direct and implement measures to prevent, retard, or suppress unwanted, native and nonnative invasive insects, pathogens, and plants affecting trees and forests.

We monitor the forests of our state by conducting periodic surveys of both public and private lands to determine detrimental changes or improvements to forest health that occur over time and report annually concerning such monitoring.

Our foresters provide technical assistance to evaluate the infestation and recommend practical, environmentally sound control measures.

Oklahoma Forest Stewardship Plan 

Oklahoma Forestry Services believes that with the right to own forested land comes responsibility to maintain healthy well-managed forests.  Oklahoma’s Forest Stewardship Program provides free technical assistance to landowners to encourage and enable active long-term forest management. Participation in the program is open to any non-industrial private forest landowners who are committed to the active management and stewardship of their forested properties for at least ten years.

A primary focus of the program is to develop comprehensive, multi-resource management plans that provide landowners with the information they need to manage their forests for a variety of products and services.

A brochure describing the program and enrollment information is available.  For guidelines relating to Forest Stewardship plan development, see the following publications:

Caring for your Forest with a Forest Stewardship Plan

Planning for Forest Stewardship: A Desk Guide

 For more information contact the OFS Forester (Linked to forester map) near you or completing our online application (linked to page within the website – http://www.forestry.ok.gov/stewardship-application)

Forest Inventory & Analysis

The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program is a partnership between Oklahoma Forestry Services and the U.S. Forest Service. This project reports on the overall extent and condition of Oklahoma’s forests using a continuous forest inventory process. Forest inventories have been conducted in eastern Oklahoma approximately every 7 to 10 years since 1936.

Inventory data is collected on a grid of permanent plots established about three miles apart. Crews use exacting procedures to take measurements on each plot that include species, size and condition of trees, evidence of harvesting, insects and diseases, fire or other forest impacts. The data is compiled and analyzed by the U.S. Forest Service. 

This process determines the status and trends of Oklahoma’s (and the nation’s) forested areas including forest land ownership patterns, forest location and extent, species composition, the size and health of trees; as well as removals by harvest, and losses to forest pests and other causes. This information is invaluable for planning and rural economic development purposes. It also enables us to evaluate whether current forest management practices are sustainable in the long run and to assess whether state policies will allow the next generation to enjoy Oklahoma’s forests as we do today.

Oklahoma’s FIA program expanded statewide in 2008, and now involves measuring 20% of the plot grid annually. Information about FIA and specific data for Oklahoma and other states is available at the Forest Service’s FIA website.

 Download Oklahoma’s Forests 2014 

 Check out this video for a short overview of the FIA program.

Click here to download the 2016 Inventory Fact Sheet

Contact our FIA coordinator for more specific information.

Water Quality

Oklahoma Forestry Services’ general approach to the development and implementation of Best Management Practice Guideline (Linked to pdf file) is one of education, technical assistance and cooperation. Protection of forest water quality is the responsibility of the landowner, the logger, the land manager, and all others applying practices or using the forest. Through sound and consistent application of Forestry BMP Guidelines, Oklahoma can avoid a costly regulatory program that relies on permits and inspections.

The BMPs lay out a framework of sound stewardship practices that, when consistently applied, will contribute positively to maintaining a high degree of forest water quality. These BMPs are not intended to be all-inclusive. Rational and objective on-site judgment must be applied to insure that water quality standards are maintained.

The most important guidance these BMPs can offer the forestry community is to think and plan before you act. Adequate forethought will pay off in two ways: to avoid unnecessary site disturbance or damage in the first place and to minimize the expense of stabilizing or restoring unavoidable disturbances when the operation is finished.

 Numerous OFS publications are available to assist with the implementation of Best Management Practices.  (Linked to page below – http://www.forestry.ok.gov/waterpublications)

THE FOLLOWING WATER QUALITY AND BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES PUBLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE.  

Water/Forest Relationship Infographic 

Water/Forest Relationship video series

Southern State and Private Forest Water Supply Publication

Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality Management in Oklahoma    

Best Management Practices for Forest Road Construction and Harvesting Operations in Oklahoma

OFS Report: Implementation of Forestry Best Management Practices in Eastern Oklahoma, 2010 

OFS FORESTRY NOTES SERIES:  FORESTRY PRACTICES FOR WATER QUALITY

OFS Forestry Note: A Handy Gauge for Forest and Farm Road Construction Measurements

OFS Forestry Note: Introduction to Road Stream Crossings

OFS Forestry Note: How to Install a Forestry Road Culvert

OFS Forestry Note: Stabilizing Gully Walls and Bottoms with Deflectors and Trees

OFS Forestry Note: Low-Cost Gully Control Using Fiber Mat and Trees

OFS Forestry Note: Constructing Small Rocked Fords on Forest and Farm Roads

OFS Forestry Note: Designing and Constructing Large Rocked Fords on Forest Streams

OFS Forestry Note: Side-Gully Control Using Trees, Hand Labor, Rock and Other Materials

Logger Training

Following sound stewardship principles in carrying out forest practices will insure that our forests continue to meet the needs of their owners, provide jobs, forest products, clean water and a healthy environment without costly regulations. Only through sound stewardship principles will all of these needs be met.

Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Arkansas Timber Producers Association (ATPA) offer logger training on Forestry Best Management Practices throughout eastern Oklahoma. Loggers who have completed training are certified as Pro Loggers. Landowners seeking the services of competent logging contractors should visit ATPA’s website to determine if a logger is certified, or to obtain a list of Pro Loggers in the area.

My Water

 Do you know which watershed you are in?  Where your water comes from? How forests play a role in your water?  Is your watershed threaten by development, fire, insects or disease?

Find out –  Go to the US Forest Service’s Forests to Faucets Website for Info

Forest Legacy

Authorized by Congress in 1990, the purpose of the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is to identify and protect environmentally important forestland from conversion to non-forest uses, through the use of conservation easements and fee purchase acquisition negotiated with willing landowners.  FLP is a cooperative partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Of Oklahoma’s 12 million acres of forestland, more than 90 percent is privately owned.  Many of these private forests, valued for so many resources and managed for different objectives, are being converted to urban and suburban developments and infrastructure, and are being subdivided into smaller and smaller parcels. As a result, we are concerned that the state’s forestlands may be unable to maintain the full suite of environmental services that forestlands currently provide the state’s citizens.

Economic pressures on forest owners, such as escalating land values and estate taxes, often lead to fragmentation and the conversion of rural areas into developed areas that extend into cities and towns. Census Bureau data shows the population of Oklahoma in 2012 was 3.815 million people, an increase of 10 percent from 2000.  It is estimated that by the year 2020 the population will increase by about 5 percent to 4.024 million.  Although statistically reliable forest inventory data will not be available statewide for a few more years, the conversion of large areas of Oklahoma’s valuable forests to non-forest uses, including some of the state’s most environmentally important forests, will continue as the state’s population grows. 

Forestry Services completed the Assessment of Need required as a part of the Forest Legacy Program during development of the Oklahoma Forest Resource Assessment in May of 2010.

Forest Markets and Products 

Oklahoma’s forests support an annual 2.8 billion-dollar wood products industry.  Oklahoma Forestry Services works to enhance and expand existing forest resources and wood-using industries through its efforts in forest utilization and marketing. Statistics on the forest and paper industry in Oklahoma and other states is available from the American Forest and Paper Association under their website’s State Economic Brochures link.

In terms of traditional forest product markets, landowners with marketable timber should first contact a professional forester for advice. Trees have real value so landowners are well advised to work with a trained professional to make sure their interests are well served during all phases of a timber sale – not only to get the best price, but also to make sure that forest regeneration needs and water quality best management practices are considered.

Timber Market

While industries which utilize forest products can be found throughout the state, Oklahoma’s timber industry is primarily located in 18 eastern counties. 

The following publications provide information and contact information for Oklahoma’s forest products industry and markets: 

Planning a Timber Sale 

While harvesting is an effective management tool, your satisfaction after the harvest depends on your knowledge of the sale process before cutting begins. A common but often costly mistake is a lack of sufficient planning. Management planning helps you to consider your objectives for owning forestland, to assess the current condition of your forest resources, and to determine the best strategy to reach your goals.

Oklahoma Forestry Services recommends that you consult with a professional forester, whether from a consulting firm, or a state agency to help you with the planning process.

Important steps to consider when planning a timber sale include:


Mark your sale boundaries
.
Identifying and marking your sale boundaries are the critical first steps in a successful timber sale. Poorly marked boundary lines can lead to timber trespass, that is, the harvesting of a neighbor’s timber. There are penalties for timber trespass in Oklahoma. Well-marked boundaries will minimize the possibility of trespass. Property deeds, topographic maps, and aerial photographs will greatly aid in helping you establish your boundaries; however, you may need to hire a professional surveyor.

Know what you have to sell.
Conduct a complete inventory, or cruise, of your forest resources to determine what your timber is worth. During the timber cruise, tree species, merchantable volumes, and potential products will be tallied. Note that wood products markets are localized and the price you receive for your timber will depend on many factors including tree quality, size, species, site access, soil conditions, harvest method, market cycles, and distance to the mill. During the products inventory other important non-timber resources, such as wildlife habitats, sensitive biological areas, historic sites, aesthetic areas, and wetlands, should be identified.

Have a management plan.
The management plan is your road map, telling you when to conduct specific activities such as harvesting, planting, thinning, and fertilizing. Your management plan should contain basic boundary and inventory information, and an activity schedule addressing how you will manage specific areas or stands within your forest. An important part of the management plan is how you intend to reforest harvested sites. This should be determined long before your timber harvest. Like the forest you own, management plans will change over time, and must be reviewed periodically to account for changes in your objectives, market conditions, environmental regulations, and other factors.

The management plan is your road map, telling you when to conduct specific activities such as harvesting, planting, thinning, and fertilizing. Your management plan should contain basic boundary and inventory information, and an activity schedule addressing how you will manage specific areas or stands within your forest. An important part of the management plan is how you intend to reforest harvested sites. This should be determined long before your timber harvest. Like the forest you own, management plans will change over time, and must be reviewed periodically to account for changes in your objectives, market conditions, environmental regulations, and other factors.

Work with a quality logger.
The forester you work with can provide a list of potential loggers. To choose a quality logger, take into account requirements such as:

  • Proof of adequate worker’s compensation and liability insurance coverage
    • Completion of logger training/continuing education programs
    • Knowledge and use of forestry Best Management Practices
    • Adequate equipment to do the job
    • List of references from previous harvesting jobs
    • You may also want to visit a current or recently completed harvesting operation of the logger. During the on-site visit look at the condition of logging equipment and haul trucks, whether woods workers wear protective equipment, how trees excluded from the timber sale are protected, and the appearance of skid trails, landings, and haul roads.

Secure a written sale agreement:
Your forest is a valuable resource, economically and ecologically. When you decide to sell timber, it is important that your short-term and longterm interests are protected. The best way to protect your interests during a timber sale is through a written timber sale agreement. As a minimum, a good timber sale contract will include:

  • Description of land with boundary lines and guarantee of title
    • Specification of payment terms
    • Description of timber, method of designating trees to be cut, and harvesting method
    • Specification of time period covered by the contract
    • Prohibition of excessive damage to unmarked trees, buildings, fences, and roads
    • Specification of penalties for damage or removal of unmarked trees
    • Assignment of liability for losses caused by the timber buyer or his agents
    • Requirement of the use of Best Management Practices and adherence to all local, state, and federal laws

Supervise the harvest:
Before the harvest begins, review the timber sale agreement and walk the site with the logger. This will give you an opportunity to get to know each other and to explain your objectives for harvesting timber. A logger that is personally familiar with you and aware of your objectives will likely do a better job. 

Once harvesting begins, either you or your representative should periodically inspect the harvest site. Visits will ensure that logging is being conducted in compliance with the terms of the sale agreement and will identify any potential problems early, when they are most easily fixed. When the harvest is complete, conduct a final inspection to be certain that the job is in compliance with Oklahoma’s Forestry Best Management Practices

Use professional assistance.
If you are uncertain about what you have to sell or have other questions about the timber sale process, don’t guess – contact a professional forester.

Firewood

Wood heat is having a resurgence in popularity. Sales of wood stoves and fireplace inserts continue to grow due to the relative affordability of firewood.

We urge you to only cut or buy local firewood.  Moving firewood more than 50 miles from where it was cut can lead to transporting invasive bugs and disease that kill trees.

Here are some tips about firewood, both for landowners who can cut firewood and improve their woodlands, as well as for homeowners hoping to save a few dollars in home-heating bills during the winter.

  • Questions & Answers About Buying or Cutting Local Firewood
  • OFS Forestry Notes – Tips for Homeowners
  • Firewood:  How to Obtain, Measure, Season, and Burn, OSU
  • Managing Your Woodlot for Firewood, OSU
  • Safe Use of Chainsaws, OSU

Ecosystem Services

In addition to these traditional markets and uses, awareness has developed of the many ecosystem services derived from our forest lands. Many of these goods and services are traditionally viewed as free benefits to society, or “public goods” such as wildlife habitat and diversity, watershed services, carbon storage, and scenic landscapes, for example. Lacking a formal market, these natural assets are typically not accounted for financially and therefore are often overlooked in public, corporate, and individual decision-making.

For more information on ecosystem services, visit the USFS Ecosystem Services website by clicking here.

Specialty Products

For many rural areas, the path to sustainable economic development will include innovative approaches to natural resource conservation, management, and utilization. The US Forest Service publication “Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products” (linked to pdf of same name) describes forest products that represent opportunities for rural entrepreneurs to supplement their incomes.

The types of products discussed in this publication include aromatics, berries and wild fruits, cones and seeds, forest botanicals, honey, mushrooms, nuts, syrup, and weaving and dyeing materials. Each chapter describes market and competition considerations, distribution and packaging, equipment needs, and resource conservation considerations, and presents a profile of a rural business marketing the products.

Publications & Resources

Websites 

An excellent resource to help you better understand forest management is available at Forest*A*Syst.  A website maintained by the Warnell School of Forestry at the University of Georgia.

Publications

About Community Forestry

Communities have unique and valuable forests, growing along streets, greenbelts, parks and our own backyards.  Urban forests enhance our quality of life in numerous ways:

  • Cleaning the air we breathe
  • Raising real estate values
  • Ensuring high quality drinking water
  • Modifying temperature extremes
  • Reducing noise pollution
  • Improving the aesthetics of Oklahoma’s landscape

OFS provides technical assistance to plant, maintain, and restore the health of your trees and the trees of your community.

Urban Forests video

Urban Forest Benefits video

Tree Cities, Tree Campus and Tree Line USA Programs

Are you interested in joining the cities, towns and military bases recognized as a Tree City U.S.A in Oklahoma? Tree City U.S.A. recognizes communities that have established local programs of education and action to improve their community forests.

Tree Line U.S.A.  recognizes public and private utility companies that demonstrate practices to protect and enhance America’s urban forests. 

Tree Campus U.S.A. recognizes college and university campuses that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with the community, and strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus and community forestry efforts. To learn more go to The National Arbor Day Foundation or contact our urban forestry team.

Oklahoma’s Tree City U.S.A. Communities and the number of years they have held this designation: 

Ada – 25

Bartlesville – 37

Bixby – 23

Broken Arrow – 20

Claremore – 35

Edmond – 21

Enid – 12

Guthrie – 23

Kingfisher – 17

Jenks – 1

Kingfisher – 17

McAlester – 32

Midwest City – 38

Morrison – 21

Muskogee – 32

Nichols Hills – 32

Norman – 18

Oklahoma City – 15

Pauls Valley – 39

Ponca City – 15

Shawnee – 18

Tinker AFB – 27

Tulsa – 27

Vance AFB – 27


Oklahoma’s Tree Line U.S.A. Companies:
 

AEP/PSO – 27

Edmond Electric – 20

OG&E – 23

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative – 13

People’s Electric Cooperative – 18

Oklahoma’s Tree Campus U.S.A.:

Cameron University – 7

Northeastern State University – 9

Oklahoma Baptist University – 3

Oklahoma City Community College – 9

Oklahoma City University – 9

Oklahoma State University – 9

Tulsa Community College NE – 8

Tulsa Community College West – 4 

Tulsa Community College Metro – 4

Tulsa Community College SE – 4

Oklahoma Community Forestry Council

Oklahoma Community Forestry Council is designed to serve Oklahoma’s urban residents by furthering the objectives of the Urban Forestry Assistance program.

Ten to 15 committee members represent a cross-section of user groups and urban forestry professionals. The Council advises on the current program and its policies, as well as recommending new directions and opportunities. It provides feedback on administrative initiatives, while advocating the program’s mission.

Follow the Oklahoma Community Forestry Council on Facebook at facebook.com/okcommunityforestry or visit the website.

Trees Make a Difference License Plate Available 

Purchase a “Trees Make a Difference” license plate
and help plant trees in cities and towns across Oklahoma!

Proceeds help Oklahoma Forestry Services provide grant funds
to local, non-profit organizations for public tree planting projects.

(Insert photo of license plate)

The license plate may be purchased at any motor vehicle tag agency or by mail. 
Special License Plate Application Form 
Code: UFN
License Plate Type: Urban Forestry and Beautification

Urban and Community Grants 

Urban and Community Grants are available to non-profit organizations, local governments, educational institutions, neighborhood associations and community tree volunteer groups. The grants are provided by Oklahoma Forestry Services, in conjunction with the US Forest Service and the Oklahoma Community Forestry Council, range from $1,000 to $10,000.  Applications are due by 5:00 pm on November 13, 2020.

State Forester’s grant introduction letter

Grant Application

Central OK Tree Canopy Assessment

Oklahoma Forestry Services teamed up with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) and Oklahoma City Community Foundation to commission the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Tree Canopy Assessment in 2019.

Conducted by Davey Resource Group, the project provides baseline data for managing the city’s urban forest through a comprehensive, 536-square-mile study of tree canopy in the Oklahoma City Metro area. The final report illustrates how trees provide environmental, functional, economic and aesthetical benefits to parks, trails, schools, watershed and neighborhoods throughout our communities. This data will help shape our community’s approach to beautification, quality of life and environmental sustainability including air quality and stormwater runoff planning, as well as the location and type of trees that should be considered for planted going forward.

Read the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Tree Canopy Assessment

 (Insert photo)

Oklahoma Trees 

It is important to remember that a tree is an investment in our future.  What you do has a significant impact upon it.  This all starts when you first select and plant a tree and continues throughout its lifespan. 

Design, Care & Selection Resources

Design:
Xeriscape Garden Plants For Oklahoma

Xeriscape Demonstration Garden Edmond, Oklahoma

Stormwater To Street Trees: Engineering Urban Forests for Storm Water Management, EPA

Selection Guides from Around the State:

Ardmore Beautification Council – Recommended Trees for Ardmore
City of Bartlesville – Centennial Tree Guide 
City of Enid – Tree Care and Selection Guide 
City of Norman – Recommended Tree List
City of Oklahoma City – Putting Down Roots 
Public Service Company of Oklahoma – Tree Tips: A Planning Guide 
Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma Proven 

Planting and Care:

Oklahoma Forestry Services – Planting and Caring for Seedlings

Right Tree for the Right Place: 

English 

Spanish

 How to Select and Plant Trees:

English 

Spanish
                 

 How to Prune Young Shade Trees:  

English   

Spanish 
                                 

How to Hire an Arborist

Experts Agree – Don’t Top Your TREE!

English 

Spanish

Tree Owner’s Manual

Christmas Trees 

Across the United States each holiday season, over 30 million real trees are harvested to decorate our homes for the holidays. Most of these trees are grown for this very purpose by thousands of private growers. Their hard work gives us the chance to keep up or to begin a wonderful family tradition.

Forestry Services encourages Oklahomans to support another of the state’s agricultural industries by buying Oklahoma-grown trees. Buying a locally-grown tree makes sense and is a great family outing. This activity helps restore a connection with rural Oklahoma, a feeling many of us have lost in our urban society. It helps the economy. It creates a reason for landowners to plant more trees. Trees clean the air, produce oxygen, create wildlife habitat, control erosion and improve the view.

Find a Christmas Tree Farm near you at Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association

For information regarding the care of your Oklahoma Christmas Tree

Caring for your Christmas Tree

Regardless of the type of tree you select, care is necessary to keep it safe and looking its best.

Lighting Basics and Safety

  • Use lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights. This will reduce the drying of the tree.
    • Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
    • Do not overload electrical circuits.
    • Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
    • Cut Trees Care and Disposal

Cut trees are the most commonly available tree in the Oklahoma market. Consider the following whether you cut your own tree or purchase a pre-cut tree.

  • Choose the appropriate sized stand for your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of the wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. The stand should have a water reservoir with at least a half-gallon capacity.
  • Place the tree in water as soon as possible. If the time between cutting your tree down and its installation in a stand is over 3 or 4 hours, it may be helpful to make a fresh cut removing about a 1/2 inch thick disk from the base of the trunk. The cut should be straight with no angle or v-groove. A straight cut is the best for holding your tree securely in the stand and maximizes the amount of water absorption.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, be sure the base of the trunk is clean. Take care not to bruise the cut surface during transport or handling.
  • Keep your tree away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will also slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.  Fresh trees may use up to a gallon a day.
  • Check the water level in the stand regularly (at least once a day). If the base of the tree goes dry and seals itself, it will not adequately absorb water and will dry out quickly. In some stands, the base of the tree may be slightly raised. Be sure to check that the water level remains above the base of the trunk.
  • Monitor the tree for freshness. If the tree is dry and brittle, consider removing it from the house soon.
  • After the holidays, use the tree as backyard habitat by decorating it with peanut butter and birdseed pine cones. Shred and compost it for the garden or recycle it in your community. These projects extend the usefulness of your tree and conserve landfill space.

Living Tree Care

If you are considering a living Christmas tree to plant outdoors after the holidays, select a high quality tree from your local nursery.

  • Gradually introduce your living tree from outside to inside over three or four days via the garage or enclosed porch. A tree that is dormant and exposed to immediate warmth will start to grow. You want to avoid any quick resumption of growth.
  • While the tree is introduced into the house via porch or garage, check for critters and insect egg masses as the tree acclimatizes.
  • Visit your nearest lawn and garden supply store. Purchase a spray with an antidessicant or antiwilt product to minimize needle loss (do this during the introduction phase). This particular product will not only reduce needle loss, it will contain the loss of valuable moisture lost to a climate controlled home.
  • If possible, locate your tree in the coolest part of the room and away from heating ducts. This will work with the antiwilt product to keep the tree moist and prevent the loss of valuable moisture.
  • Place the tree in a large galvanized tub including root ball. This tub stabilizes the tree and ball (or pot) and confines water and needles into a more manageable and cleanable space.
  • Stabilize the tree in the tub in a straight and vertical position using rocks or bricks. Water only in the tree’s container if not a balled-in-burlap tree.
  • If balled-in-burlap, fill empty space around and on top of the ball with mulch to retain as much moisture as possible. Then water your tree as often as necessary to moisten the roots but not soggy.
  • Leave inside no longer than 7-10 days (some experts suggest only 4 days). Never add nutrients or fertilizers as that may initiate growth which you don’t want to occur in a dormant tree.
  • Carefully introduce tree back outside using the reverse procedure and plant.

Current Tree Insect and Disease Issues in State 

(We have photos of each of the pests to go with these links to pdf files)

Anhracnose,OSU 

Bagworms & Webworms, OSU

Common Diseases of Conifers in Oklahoma- OSU  

Japanese Beetles, OSU

Pecan Scab, OSU 

Pine Wilt, OSU 

Common Oak Defoliators, MSU 

Oak Canker, OSU 

Help us be on the lookout for these pests

Asian Longhorned Beetle,USFS 

Thousand Cankers Disease, USFS 

Sudden Oak Death, USFS 

Emerald Ash Borer 

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), is a green beetle native to eastern Asia that feeds on ash trees. In its native range, it is not considered a significant pest. Outside its native range, it is an invasive species and is highly destructive to ash trees native to northwest Europe and North America. EAB is now found in much of the eastern and central United States including northeastern Oklahoma. 

Numerous partnering agencies in Oklahoma developed an EAB Action Plan in 2015 to establish a coordinated response should the insect be found in the state. Additional information on national and individual state preparation and response can be found on the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network website.

An excellent publication written by Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry provides an overview of the signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer to assist individuals in identifying infected trees and is available by clicking here.(linked to pdf – OK Tree Pests Emerald Ash Borer signs and symptoms)

Information and resources are available below to assist communities and individuals make informed decisions regarding steps to protect their trees from the pest or how to manage an infestation.  For additional information or technical assistance please contact OFS at 405-522-6158.

Frequently Asked Questions  (linked to page within websitehttp://www.forestry.ok.gov/eab-faq

Oklahoma EAB Community Guide 

Saving Storm Damaged Trees

If there is one thing Oklahomans and their trees and forests know best it is how to deal with all forms of severe weather.  Just as we help our neighbors following ice storms, tornadoes and hail, sometimes our trees can also use a bit of an assist.

Following a weather event many people are concerned about the damage sustained and potential loss of trees.  Once power has been restored and safety issues resolved, home and landowners should consider basic steps to make sure their trees and forested lands will have the greatest chance to recover from damage.

 The following series of bulletins from Oklahoma Forestry Services and the National Arbor Day Foundation provide basic information to consider in helping your trees recover. Homeowners with specific questions about landscape trees may also go to Trees after the Storm for additional information.

Helping Trees Recover

Will My Trees Survive

When a Storm Strikes

Managing Ice-Damaged Forest Stands

Don’t Top Trees 

How to Prune Young Shade Trees

Why Hire an Arborist?

The Right Tree for the Right Place

The Impact on Wildlife

Trees for Wildlife 

If your tree CANNOT be saved, consider some wood utilization ideas.

Certified Arborists in Oklahoma

Why Hire an Arborist?

An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.

Click Here to find an ISA Certified Arborist in your area.

Oklahoma Forests

Economic Impact

Many Oklahomans do not realize that more than twelve million acres (approximately 28 percent of the land) of our state is forested and the forest industry directly contributes over $3.3 billion to our state’s economy annually. Our forests provide numerous ecological services such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty. View the latest forestry economic stats fact sheets: Economic Importance of Forestry in Oklahoma in 2016 – Infographic and Economic Importance of Forestry in Oklahoma in 2016 – Factsheet.


Who Owns Oklahoma’s Forests?

The vast majority of Oklahoma’s forests (95% or more) are not owned by the federal government or large forest products companies, but instead by thousands of private individuals – from farmers and ranchers and those who still live on the land, to the teachers and professionals and other private citizens that reside in cities across the state or across the nation.

Care and Management is the Key

Oklahoma’s forest is a huge asset to our state, the nation and the world. Proper care and management is essential. State and federal government, the forest industry, community leaders and thousands of private landowners working together help to keep our forests and woodlands healthy and productive.

Major Forest Types

Oak-Hickory Forest

The majority of Oklahoma forestland is oak-hickory. On the map you can see how it fingers its way into a wide variety of forms and species mixes. Oak-hickory forests provide food, cover and nesting sites for numerous wildlife species.

In northeastern Oklahoma, you’ll find these trees used for commercial wood products. Further west as the rainfall diminishes the growth rate of these forests is slowed. Hickory becomes less common

Oak-Southern Pine Forest

Commercially, our most valuable wood is generated from southern oak-pine forests, which are in the far southeastern corner of Oklahoma on more than five million acres extending into five counties. The forest industry and private landowners claim the vast majority of southern oak-pine woods. The federal government owns approximately 300,000 acres of national forests.

Among the Oklahoma industries supported by these forests include:

  • Two large sawmills
  • A plywood plant
  • A medium density fiberboard plant
  • Two large paper mills

Located in the scenic Ouachita Mountains these forests provide superior recreation opportunities as well as supporting a diverse wildlife population.

Another benefit is the filtering system these woodlands offer to ensure high quality drinking water that is used as far away as Oklahoma City.

Post Oak-Blackjack Forest 

In the center of the state towering trees bow out to the cross-timbers-dense, gnarled patches of drought-resistant post and blackjack oaks. In 1832, Washington Irving called them “forests of cast iron.”  Later, cowboys driving herds along the Chisholm and Shawnee trails gave this forest its existing name. The timbers snagged cattle as they attempted to cross.

Piñon Pine-Juniper Forest

Tucked away in the northwestern most corner of the Panhandle Oklahoma has approximately two thousand acres of piñon pine and juniper forestland. Commonly referred to scrub or brush lands, these savanna-like forests contain several species of western juniper and at least two species of pine. You can find a very small number of Ponderosa pine trees on favorable slopes. Used locally for firewood or fence posts, these trees have no other commercial value.

Bottomland Hardwoods/Riparian Forests

Travel from the cross-timbers shaggy arms to follow the streams and low prairie rivers, and you will find another type of Oklahoma forest-the bottomland hardwoods. In far southeastern Oklahoma you can walk in the shade of bald cypress and willow oaks. In northeastern areas you’ll find pin oaks and cove-type hardwoods.

In central Oklahoma we have elms, pecan and a wide variety of oaks. Out in the western part of the state the number of species in our bottomland hardwood forests declines. The majority of trees are cottonwood, elm and ash.

Oklahoma’s bottomland hardwoods have been heavily cut over and cleared for agricultural uses. Because their wood is valuable and easy to transport along waterways, these trees were among the first forests cut in Oklahoma. Man-made lakes have flooded many uncut areas.

By 1956, the U.S. Forest Service estimated that only 15 percent of the state’s bottomland hardwoods still stood. Fortunately, the trees in these forests naturally regenerate very well and with minimal management and protection they can be restored to productive conditions. Commercially, the most valuable timber from the bottomlands comes from:

  • Black walnut
  • Pecan
  • Red oaks
  • White oaks
  • Green ash

Some other forests tapped early in settlement were the central Oklahoma oak forests. These trees provided raw material for western expansion of the railroads, some of the westernmost good quality trees suitable for this purpose.

Oklahoma’s riparian forests are now being recognized for their value in controlling non-point source pollution and erosion, protecting water quality, providing travel corridors and habitat for diverse wildlife species, shading streams and maintaining aquatic habitat, and serving as a transition zone between streams and more intensive land uses. Considerable effort is underway by numerous state and federal agencies working with private landowners to protect and restore riparian forest buffers along streams where feasible. Suitable practices include tree planting, fencing to exclude grazing and encourage natural regeneration, and limiting activities within the streamside management zone to protect the soil and maintain forest vegetation.

Redcedar Forests

A new forest is quickly emerging over the last 70 years. It was not present during the time Irving was here. Scattered across Oklahoma in a three to four million-acre range are redcedar forests, which have popped up in ever increasing numbers after wildfires were largely contained or eliminated. Many ranchers have had their rangelands overwhelmed by what many call an “invasion” of redcedar. This incursion is causing a long-term change in our forestland and rangeland ecosystems.

Hardy prairie grasses and periodic wildfires once relegated cedars to the more remote limestone outcrops and protected canyons. Passive land management, over-grazing livestock and suppressing wildfires have transformed much of Oklahoma into the ideal nursery for cedar seedlings.

Redcedar has many commercial uses. Sawmills have opened across the state to utilize the products these trees provide, which include: cedar oil, litter box chips, lumber for hope chests, and insect repellent.

Oklahoma’s Lost Forest 

According to the southern forest resource assessment, in 1630 Oklahoma had 13.3 million acres of forests with 133 tree species. By the 1930s less than 200,000 acres of virgin forest in eastern Oklahoma remained. The U.S. Forest Service estimates we now have 7.665 million acres of forest-58 % of the original acreage. Forest surveys have shown increases in the forest during the past 20 years due to better management and reforestation.

Elbert Little, Jr., who studied several forest sites in southeast Oklahoma over a 60 year period described the burned out and cutover woods he first witnessed in 1929 as “almost worthless for any purpose.” It would be some time, he said, before it was of any value.”

Despite early excesses, poor land use and lack of foresight, some exciting stories of forest reclamation are also woven into our history. For example, during the first 10 years our agency was in business an intensive public education campaign was launched. As a result, the percentage of southeastern forests burned annually dropped from 80 percent to three percent.

By the 1980s when Little revisited the area, he reversed his earlier position about the worthlessness of the land. He wrote that he wished he owned some of it. “The progress in management of southeastern Oklahoma’s forest lands is far greater than anyone would have predicted a half century ago,” he wrote. “The changes, mostly beneficial, are beyond anyone’s imaginations or dreams.”

The state’s vast pine and oak-pine forests have recovered well and presently support a huge forest industry, wildlife populations and recreation opportunities.

It is important to remember forests change naturally over time-they won’t remain the same unless we manipulate them intentionally. Early French explorers in east central Oklahoma north of Wilburton named the mountains San Bois: treeless. Now they are covered with woodlands.

Large pine trees scattered in tall-grass savannah characterized the virgin forests of southeastern Oklahoma. Quality hardwoods such as walnut and ash were growing in Oklahoma along the west Texas border thousands of years ago. Very large red cedars have been unearthed near Chickasha that are estimated to also be several thousand years old.

Grasslands and the woodlands are in a constant tug of war as they respond to long-term climate changes. Humanity is only one part of a very large equation.

Ecoregions 

Insert ecoregion map saved as a jpg

Trees of Oklahoma

Oklahoma is home to a wide range of trees as a result of the diversity of our landscape.  The following fact sheets were produced by the USDA Forest Service and the Southern Group of State Foresters.  Additional information is also available in the USDA Forest Service Handbook 654 (Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States)

Note: Those trees in bold are recommended for planting in urban areas 

Oklahoma Forestry Services provides copies of the book
Forest Trees of Oklahoma by Dr. Elbert L. Little for $4.00. 
Order a book online (Link to online store) today or contact us at 405-522-6158.

For additional information on trees for planting in urban areas visit the Oklahoma Proven website.

Oklahoma’s Forest Action Plan

As required by the 2008 Farm Bill, Oklahoma Forestry Services undertook an extensive assessment of the state’s forest resources.  This assessment provided not only an overview of the state’s forests, but identified the issues those forest face. 

Six critical issue topics for Oklahoma were identified through survey inputs submitted from foresters, natural resource professionals, and the public.

  • Forest Sustainability and Health
    • Forest Economics and Markets
    • Water Quantity and Quality
    • Community Forests Health and Care
    • Wildfire Risks to Oklahoma
    • Impacts of Climate Change on Oklahoma’s Forest Resources
    • Read the complete Oklahoma Forest Action Plan 2015

Read the complete Oklahoma Forest Action Plan 2015

For more information contact:

Scott Huff, Forest Management Chief

scott.huff@ag.ok.gov

405-522-6158

Oklahoma’s Forest Landscapes of Concern

Oklahoma Forestry Services identified three priority forest landscapes of concern in the 2010 Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy which included:

  • Shortleaf Pine
  • Cross Timbers
  • Illinois River Watershed

Efforts have been made to educate the public and encourage forest management in these priority landscapes.  Click on the links above to learn more about these forested landscapes. 

(Insert map OK Forests Areas of Concern jpg)

Shortleaf Pine

Shortleaf pine is the most widespread pine species in the southeastern United States. Its natural range includes 21 states, extending from New York, south to north Florida and west into Texas and the eastern quarter of Oklahoma.

Shortleaf-dominated landscapes support a wide variety of native grasses, wildflowers, forbs and wildlife species; survive on the harshest of sites; and are adapted to frequent wildfire and drought. However, according to U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data, the timberland area occupied by shortleaf pine declined from 12.6 million acres in 1980 to 6.0 million acres in 2012, a loss of 53 percent.  The map shows current locations of shortleaf on FIA plots as compared to its native range. 

Habitat loss for the species is a concern and is the result of several factors, including changes in fire frequency, large-scale tree plantings of faster-growing loblolly pine which have displaced native shortleaf on many sites and an increase in shortleaf X loblolly hybrids that is jeopardizing shortleaf’s genetic integrity.

Although loblolly pine is currently preferred for plantation-style management in Oklahoma, shortleaf pine is still a vital part of Oklahoma’s landscape. Shortleaf pine is well-adapted to droughty and rocky sites, and is very resistant to ice and wind damage. As a native species with the ability to sprout following fire, shortleaf is more adapted to the changing climate conditions at the western fringes of the pine range.  However, managing a native shortleaf stand rather than converting it to a loblolly plantation requires the landowner to make tradeoffs, especially in timber production and short-term economic value.

Shortleaf is attracting renewed attention from those interested in restoring and maintaining historical native pine ecosystems throughout the South. It is not suitable for all management goals, but landowners should consider shortleaf pine for their upland sites, especially where natural regeneration is a feasible alternative.

Learn more about Shortleaf Pine:

Funding assistance for Oklahoma’s shortleaf pine initiative was provided by the USDA Forest Service – Southern Region, Forest Stewardship Program.

Shortleaf Morphology

Mature Height: 100 feet (In 2009, Oklahoma’s State Champion was 114 feet tall)

Mature Diameter: 30 inches (In 2009, Oklahoma’s State Champion was 36 inches in diameter)

Form: Pyramidal crown, straight trunk, well-pruned

Twigs: Rough, green to purple with white glaucous when young; red-brown to black when mature

Leaves: Evergreen needles of 2 or 3 per fascicle, about 2 ½ to 4 inches long; acicular, slender, flexible; dark green to yellow-green

Bark: Rough in seedlings and new branches; irregular, flat and scaly yellow-brown to dark brown plates that are 1 inch thick when mature (an adaptation to fire)

Female strobili: Light green to purple and armed on short stalks in clusters of 2 to 4

Male strobili: Cylindrical, red to yellow, in clusters on new shoots in the lower crown

Cones: Dull brown, egg-shaped, 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches long, with prickles on scales; seeds are paired under the scales, dark brown, 3/16 inches long with 5/8-inch papery wing

Wood: Reddish to orange brown, with thick, whitish or yellowish sapwood; medium textured, moderately heavy, moderately hard and strong, resinous; valuable for lumber, panels, veneer, pulp, posts and poles

Range: The map above shows the original species range in Oklahoma as determined by Dr. Elbert L. Little, Jr.

(Insert two shortleaf drawings)

Shortleaf Pine Resources

Useful Shortleaf Pine Links

  • County Extension Agents – These local specialists provide information on a variety of forestry subjects. Find an office near you.
  • USDA National Agroforestry Center – This is a federal resource to help those interested in agroforestry – the practice of integrating forests with agricultural production.

Places to Visit – Go See Shortleaf Pine Management

Because shortleaf is less profitable than loblolly pine on most sites, much of the land management and restoration work for this species is found on public lands which offer opportunities for long-term conservation of native species. Some public areas where shortleaf pine remains a valued part of our native landscape include these sites:

Shortleaf pine is the most widespread pine species in the southeastern United States. Its natural range includes 21 states, extending from New York, south to north Florida and west into Texas and the eastern quarter of Oklahoma. Shortleaf-dominated landscapes support a wide variety of native grasses, wildflowers, forbs and wildlife species; survive on the harshest of sites; and are adapted to frequent wildfire and drought. However, according to U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data, the timberland area occupied by shortleaf pine declined from 12.6 million acres in 1980 to 6.0 million acres in 2012, a loss of 53 percent.  The map shows current locations of shortleaf on FIA plots as compared to its native range. 

Habitat loss for the species is a concern and is the result of several factors, including changes in fire frequency, large-scale tree plantings of faster-growing loblolly pine which have displaced native shortleaf on many sites and an increase in shortleaf X loblolly hybrids that is jeopardizing shortleaf’s genetic integrity.

Although loblolly pine is currently preferred for plantation-style management in Oklahoma, shortleaf pine is still a vital part of Oklahoma’s landscape. Shortleaf pine is well-adapted to droughty and rocky sites, and is very resistant to ice and wind damage. As a native species with the ability to sprout following fire, shortleaf is more adapted to the changing climate conditions at the western fringes of the pine range.  However, managing a native shortleaf stand rather than converting it to a loblolly plantation requires the landowner to make tradeoffs, especially in timber production and short-term economic value.

Shortleaf is attracting renewed attention from those interested in restoring and maintaining historical native pine ecosystems throughout the South. It is not suitable for all management goals, but landowners should consider shortleaf pine for their upland sites, especially where natural regeneration is a feasible alternative. Learn more in the resources section, or by contacting us.