Path Home Shows 2008 Show Archive August 2008 Show 0832 Forestry


When most people think of Oklahoma, it's the prairie that comes to mind...with not a tree in sight. But when it comes to terrain, our state is as diverse as any in the Nation.


Show Dates

Show 0832: Forestry

Air date: August 10, 2008



Rob:  When most people think of Oklahoma, it’s the prairie that comes to mind, with not a tree in sight.  But when it comes to our terrain, our state is as diverse as any in the nation.  Today, we focus on Oklahoma’s woodlands, a resource that is both vast and plentiful, with a huge economic impact.  Here’s our Brian Bendele.

Brian Bendele:  It is something you may not expect to hear in Oklahoma, the sounds of saws and machinery cutting trees, but the timber industry plays a major part in the state economy.

Kurt Atkinson:  Timber ranks about 5th among all agricultural commodities in the state, which is a real surprise to most people.  They think of Oklahoma wheat, cattle, oil; but timber is right up their in the top five on agriculture.

Brian:  Kurt Atkinson is the assistant director of forestry services for the state, and says the eastern third of Oklahoma produces a substantial amount of lumber, and is also home to some of the largest mills, in the region.

Atkinson:  The Weyerhaeuser Sawmill is supposedly one of the largest sawmills east of the Rocky Mountains, and the new Huber Oriented Strand Board Plant at Broken Bow is the largest in the world.

Brian:  Making lumber the primary fuel that keeps southeastern Oklahoma running.

Atkinson:  We estimate eleven thousand jobs in that region.  Annual payroll, the association has estimated over 320 million dollars, in that region.  The value of shipments, that those mills down there produce, is over 1.8 billion dollars; and that all comes back to Oklahoma.

Brian:  Wood can be used in a variety of ways, from houses to furniture, and even art; but it’s when wood is in its natural state, as trees in the forest, that it attracts tourists.  Mike Willeby is assistant park manager for Beavers Bend State Park.

Mike Willeby:  For southeast Oklahoma, tourism is a major industry.  It’s something that not only affects the people within the park system, but the outlying communities as well.  A lot of our businesses derive income from the tourism industry.

Brian:  Located just outside of Broken Bow, Beavers Bend offers a variety of activities for visitors, from trout fishing, to canoe rides, camping and hiking.  Many can enjoy the natural beauty of the region, but it takes programs like the Evening Hole restoration project to keep this area looking beautiful.

Willeby:  The basis of the project is to actually narrow the river in this area, to increase the water flow, so that it will reduce the temperature in order to keep the trout alive.  It is a beautiful place.  The only thing that is going to keep it beautiful, and around for years to come, is our efforts to conserve the property, and to actually do things like this, the restoration project, to bring things back to the way they once were.

Brian:  Providing a safe habitat for many different species of wildlife, something Frank Griffith, state park naturalist, says is important for the animals, but also for the youth that come to visit the park.

Frank Griffith:  This is an albino corn snake.  It is very important that we are actually here; because if you notice, people are actually building more and more developments, houses, and things like that; and they’re finding more and more wildlife in the surrounding cities, inside towns.

Brian:  Griffith manages the rehabilitation center, caring for injured animals, and releasing them back to the wild.  Tinkin, is a great horned owl, and can’t be released into the wild, but instead, serves as an educational tool, for visitors to the park.

Griffith:  They don’t get to see this very much, up and close, personal, out in the wild; so we just bring it to them, and they like it.  We get thousands of school kids every year that come through here; and I go to them; and the number one animal they want to see is the birds, and possibly the snakes.

Brian:  So as the future of tomorrow learns about the different animals of the forest, and the importance of taking care of it, they also learn about how vast our state really is.