Chickasaw National Recreation Area conducts prescribed burns

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SULPHUR - Smoke has filled Texoma skies since Saturday. After a nearly 2-week break for wet weather, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area resumed prescribed burns of eastern red cedar.

It's a plant one park rangers said is invasive and damaging the land.

"It has been reducing light for the natural grasses and flowers, said Dan Winings, park ranger and public information officer for the park. "It also has been removing water from the water table."

Winings also said since Saturday they've started burning 3,000 acres of cedar from 4 p.m. til 9 p.m. every day.

And while it may seem destructive, Steven Smith with the Noble Foundation said the flames actually help the environment.

"The plants evolved with fire," said Smith. "It helps with our nutrient recycling, it controls brush from encroaching into pastures."

Wildlife experts also said that this controlled burning of this eastern red cedar isn't just good for the environment. It's also good for people.

Winings said this type of cedar is especially flammable, and burning it now can reduce the risk of house fires later.

"It'll carry fire very quickly," said Winings. "And we have a lot of homes surrounding the park so it increases the safety of those homes around the park."

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