Fast-spreading trees a headache in Nebraska, Iowa, Dakotas - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fast-spreading trees a headache in Nebraska, Iowa, Dakotas

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Trees that suck up sunlight and groundwater at the expense of other prairie plant life are creating new headaches throughout the Plains, including Nebraska, western Iowa and the Dakotas.
   The eastern red cedar tree spreads so quickly that it catches many landowners off-guard, consuming huge areas of productive ranchland and threatening many of the area's original prairies.
   At one point in Nebraska, the trees expanded at a pace of nearly 40,000 acres a year Some landowners have formed burn associations to clear the trees.
   John Ortmann, a rangeland ecologist in Ord, Nebraska, says the problem will worsen without proper land management techniques, including controlled burns to keep the trees in check.

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