Experts suggest tapping that wealth to pay for the trees’ removal.
There are three ways to remove the trees, which are taking over the state’s grasslands and Sandhills.
The Nebraska Forest Service lists chemical treatments, mechanically cutting down the trees, or fire as options.
John DuPlissis, NFS Program Leader Rural Forestry, says those vary in cost.
“Chemical means are going to run you, depending on how you do it, $150-$250 per acre. Mechanical means can maybe run you in the neighborhood of $500 an acre,” DuPlissis tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Fire tends to be a little bit cheaper, down in maybe the $150 an acre range.”
Tapping into the annual growth of eastern redcedar could generate up to $22 million in wood chip sales every year.
That is just one option for marketing the trees.
“If they’re mechanically shearing and removing those trees, we might be able to get at least a portion of them to a bedding mill, that would turn it into livestock bedding,” DuPlissis explains, “or to a sawmill that might turn it into sawtimber for useful products like furniture or paneling.”
He says there are few sawmills in the state, so higher transportation costs would reduce profits.
“I would love to think we could eliminate this as a problem overnight, by simply turning it into a useful product that would generate income,” DuPlissis says. “That would help to cover the costs of maintaining or keeping cedar at a manageable level.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:42]