Lincoln, Neb. — Nebraska lawmakers are looking for new ways to fight a fast-spreading tree species that crowds out other plants, destroys valuable ranchland and threatens the Great Plains from Texas to the Dakotas.
Eastern red cedar trees are native to the Plains but have spread out of control without the natural prairie fires that kept them in check centuries ago. The trees suck up sunlight and groundwater at the expense of other native plants and turn grasslands into barren patches of dirt.
The issue has caught the attention of Nebraska lawmakers, who will convene a hearing Friday at the state Capitol to brainstorm ways to keep the problem from worsening.
Sen. Dan Hughes, of Venango, who is conducting a study of the trees, says they have a significant economic impact on ranchers.