Legislation to protect 10% of our state forests from logging has been introduced in our State Legislature. HB 1155 is authored by Representative Mike Braun (R-Jasper) and coauthored by Representatives Anthony Cook (R-Cicero) and Eric Koch (R-Bedford) in the House, and SB 365 in the Senate is authored by Senator Eric Bassler (R-Washington). If you want more of wild nature conserved in our state forests, now is the time to contact your state legislators and ask them to please:
- SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION. Please also thank Reps. Braun, Cook and Koch and Senator Bassler if they are your legislators!
- REQUEST THAT THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEES IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE GIVE HB 1155 AND SB 365 A HEARING!
Here are some facts in support of this “Old Forest” legislation:
- Protecting large areas of the state forests from logging has long been a nonpartisan goal of Republican and Democratic Administrations. As of 2002, the DNR under Republican and Democratic governors had set aside 40% of the state forests, 60,000 acres, from logging. However, the current logging program has reduced the total acres protected from logging to only 4.8% of the state forest, approximately 7,500 acres.
- Since 2005 two Divisions within the current DNR have agreed that at least 10% of the state forests should not be logged. In an Environmental Assessment for the current logging program, the Division of Forestry (DOF) itself stated that appreciable areas of the state forests should not be logged. The Division of Fish and Wildlife stated in 2005 that at least 10% of the state forests should not be logged and should be maintained in an old forest condition (>100 years old) in order to provide mature interior forest habitat for wildlife. To obtain a “green” certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, the DOF agreed in 2011 to “maintain 10 percent of the state forests in an older forest condition.” However, DOF has yet to establish these old forest areas, and instead continues to cut down 8,000 acres of state forests every year under a plan that will log 95% of the state forests within 12 more years.
- Timber sold from Indiana’s state forests is sold for a price that is on average 40% below market value. This undermines prices for private woodland owners nearby and leaves county residents paying through their taxes for damages to their county roads and bridges.
- Setting aside 10 percent of the state forests as “Old Forest” will not hurt Indiana’s timber industry. Consulting Foresters Stumpage Timber Price Reports for 2012 through 2014 show that state forests provide only 4.9 to 7.5% of the timber bought by Indiana saw mills each year.
- Recreation can generate more dollars for local communities from state forests. US Forest Service data indicates that recreation supports nearly 5 times more jobs in communities surrounding national forests than logging.
Your state legislators need to hear from you now for these bills to have a chance of being heard in Committee which must happen before the end of January. The stakes are high; the rampant increase in logging on our state forests has compelled a group of republican legislators to propose that parts of our state forests should never be logged, something that has never happened before and that is not supported by the Pence Administration and hotly opposed by the timber industry. Please raise your voice now with these legislators for the rare and endangered species of our state, the big trees, the last of the wild areas, and for the water that flows through these forests, things that we should not lose in Indiana! Don’t let this moment slip by without acting. To find YOUR legislator, check out this link: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/